Sunday, October 28, 2012

Issue 14: How Deep Are Your Roots?

I was again contacted by Illinois Farm Families to write a blog post for their website and blog. In my Farm Notes post from May 17th, I included my first blog post for IL Farm Families called "Firsts" on the Farm.  The mission of their organization and blog is to educate non-farm families about what happens on a farm, where their food comes from, and dispell the myths about food, farming, etc. 

The inspiration for my latest blog post came from spending last Sunday afternoon at the side of my Great-Uncle Val Lazzaretto as he passed away. As we sat with family, we retold stories of their farm days. He will be greatly missed, but his stories will live on as we continue to tell them at family gatherings and pass them on to generations to come.

The response to this post was just awesome! IL Farm Families loved it so much that I will be a monthly blogger on their site. Hooray! Writing these short posts for them has reminded me that I need to get my Farm Notes blog updated with stories of what's been happening out here in West Central IL. I continue to come across non-farm families here in the Peoria area and back home that have so many questions about country living and farm life. This will hopefully be the motivation I need to keep my Farm Notes comin'! 

This is the direct link to the full IL Farm Families post and pictures: 
(The old picture is from 1989 when my Uncle Val took my brother Mike and me to the first farm I ever visited. You can tell by the picture that I didn't like the smell of the barn. The second picture is from last spring during planting season when I took the kids to visit Grant for dinner in the field- 23 years after the first picture was taken!)
The main link with past blog posts of IL Farm Families is: 
(If you scan down the page to the blog post from Sept 18th, you'll see my sister-in-law's post with a picture of my neice and nephew (two of Gavin's favorite friends!))
As always, Happy Reading!

I've copied the blog post below for easier access:

How Deep Are Your Roots?

Illinois Farm Families - Wednesday, October 24, 2012
My grandfather and his siblings grew up on a farm in rural Iowa in the 20’s and 30’s. Throughout my childhood in the Chicago suburbs, holidays, birthday parties, and family gatherings were full of stories of the farm. My grandfather and his siblings would sit around the dinner table, card game, or birthday cake retelling stories of their farm days. As a Chicago suburban girl, I had only those stories and children’s picture books to understand what farm life was like. I imagined a farm to be a dirt road leading to a white house surrounded by corn, wheat, and livestock. I assumed every farmer had chickens, pigs, cows, hens, and sheep, just like Old MacDonald. 
My relatives’ stories laid the foundation for my assumptions as well. They made their own sausage (I too took part in this tradition in my great-uncle’s basement, and we have a home video to prove it), stomped their own grapes for homemade wine (which graced the dinner tables of holiday gatherings), frolicked in the cow’s pasture (and were chased up a tree by a bull), got in trouble while fishing on their neighbors’ land (and received a harsh punishment because of it), had a close encounter with an alien space ship in the middle of a cornfield (I’m serious!), knew where Al Capone’s men bought their eggs and alcohol on their trips from the big city (which they were told to keep mum about), and were the first English speaking members of their immigrant family from Italy. The colorful memories of my grandfather and his siblings were tales of the good-ole days, before they left their country life in search of jobs in Chicago. As they grew up, there weren’t opportunities on their small family farm, so they followed the paths forged by their older siblings to where they could find work.

As a little girl listening to their farm stories, I never would have thought that nearly 20 years later, I would fall in love with a farmer and live on a farm. What I knew of farming was only what I had heard as a child and what I saw on I-57 while attending the University of Illinois. During those drives to and from college, I marveled at the beautiful sunsets, the golden colors of the changing crops, the farmers out late at night harvesting or planting their fields, and the wide distance between farm houses. In the years since I met my husband, I’ve watched multiple sunsets from the porch of a white farm house, drove down countless dirt roads, taken tractor and combine rides late into the night, and learned about the crops they tend and the pigs they raise. Although my husband’s family doesn’t make their own sausage, stomp their own grapes for wine, or have close encounters with gangsters or aliens, I appreciate the stories of the good ole days on the farm whether they are from my family or my husband’s relatives. Even though I grew up in the suburbs, farming and country living is in my blood, and I like to think that I’ve returned to my roots, where there is always a good story waiting to be told. 

Kristen Strom
Brimfield, IL