Spring Daffodils. One of the things I love about living on our farm is driving along the country roads and seeing a big patch of daffodils. When I first moved here, I thought the daffodils were wild. I’ve since learned that when I see a big patch of daffodils, it’s a sign that there was probably a house—a homeplace—there at some point. The house is gone, but the daffodils remain, popping up each Spring with their thirst for life. I like to imagine the lives of the people who came before us. On our seventh generation family farm, the landscape has changed over the years. I hear stories of barns and houses that were once here, stories of what happened inside those houses and the people who occupied them, who tended this land. I’m told where an old barn once stood, and it just looks like grass now. Within a few short years, the Earth covers the space with grass, regenerating. What was there becomes a memory. The ghosts of old buildings remain, the sweat of the people who worked the land still in the soil. I like to think that the Earth remembers.
When you look at the landscape now, it’s easy to think that this is how things have always looked. The roads, the buildings, the pastures. Old roadbeds are still here, no longer in use and covered in wet leaves. Walking in the woods, you can hardly tell they are there, and when your eyes adjust, they look like a walking trail. There’s a story of when Adam’s grandmother went into labor with her first child, they used the tractor to drive her over the snow and ice on the old roadbed to get to the main road so she could get to the clinic in Brandenburg. (Adam’s dad was born in the old farmhouse, and Adam’s Uncle Mike was born at a hospital in Hardinsburg). The road in front of our house didn’t get put in until ’49, a year after that first child’s birth, and it was a gravel road until 1970. So even just two generations ago, that old road was still in use. Adam’s great grandmother Lora Keys quilted to help the family survive the Great Depression. She had a giant flower garden that is said to be beautiful. In that garden, she brought in a bush called Multiflora Rose, that everyone curses now because it has thorns and has invaded every piece of fence line on this farm. It does have beautiful flowers in the Spring. We remember Lora fondly. She created a lot of beauty on the farm. She worked through love to nurture her children and grandchildren, and we still have some of her quilts. Planting that first bush, she couldn’t know what would happen. It’s hard to know what pieces of our lives will last into future generations, which pieces will be helpful, and which unintentionally harmful. Seven generations from now, will the remnants of our lives be like that rosebush? Or like the daffodil? Probably a little of both.
Each generation tries to live a good life and tend the land in a good way. We are incredibly privileged to farm land that has been in one family for seven generations, to hear the stories of the people who were here before, the ways they loved the land. We see ourselves as part of that story, that lineage, offering gratitude for the sweat, laughter and tears of the people who came before us, building on their work and offering our labor and our lives to tending this piece of soil for the next seven generations. We offer our lives and labor like a prayer to the Earth and to those who will come after.