Life on the Farm

June’s Sweetest Sound

There’s no more comforting sound to awaken to than a soft June rain falling on a shingled roof. The patter of the light rain whispers sweet, two-word poems like “Maybe slowly” and “Rising delayed.”
On the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth, a rainy June day was a treat almost as great as homemade ice […]

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Renewable Energy

The tall, mostly dead red oak on the eastern edge of the farmette still stands this late, long winter, saved mostly by this late, long winter.
The majestic, strong-armed tree, my age or a little more, had a date with the saw and maul as soon as the weather turned cold. Deep snow and face-cracking cold, […]

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Books, Plans, and “congress”

A week or two into every new year, most folks review, often regretfully, their list of resolutions already bent, broken or buried.
That never happened on the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth for one simple reason: We never made any New Year’s resolutions.
We didn’t. Honest.
In fact, I can’t recall one instance that of […]

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“Hoard’s” Priceless Christmas Gift

The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that bordered the farm. Big-bulbed lights, strung in barber pole fashion, generated almost as much heat as the nearby wood stove. Yellowed Christmas cards, saved over the years and perched like doves in the untrimmed branches, served as ornaments.
“I believe this […]

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Fields of gold

On a sparkling fall day a week before the first FarmAid concert at the University of Illinois, I drove the back roads to Champaign to pick up two press passes for the lovely Catherine and me. It was mid-September, 1985, and the brown corn and yellowing soybeans rattled and rippled in a soothing breeze.
Later, while […]

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The last supper

The weekly newspaper from my hometown bring news that the small, rural Catholic church near the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth will close its doors next year, a casualty, according to its distant bosses, of too few priests and too many parishes.
It’s a judgment day that many of the old timers mostly […]

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