Death of a Family Farm

The Amish said they’d raze the barn for scrap;
the other buildings nature would unbuild.
As for the rest of it, all useless crap,
new owners can do with it what they will.
When we moved there, my father tried in vain
to make do without livestock for a while;
but ninety acres’ yearly crop of grain
was not enough for us to live in style.

At nine years old, I spent the summer’s back
behind the tractor, clearing fields of rocks,
to keep the plows from jamming in their tracks,
and played at night with pebbles in my socks.
The kids from town looked down on the farm boys,
whose business kept their parents’ stores afloat;
they had all kinds of new and fancy toys,
while we had rabbits, and wore cousins’ coats.

It got to be too much for mom and dad,
whose upward mobile attitudes died hard;
and then, the blizzard winter years were bad —
the final hand that dealt the losing card.
We moved to California for the sun,
and ’cause the schools were better at the time;
a culture shock, for sure, but once begun,
we grew up in that world into our prime.

But we were different from our urban friends.
Our parents were much older than theirs were,
and maybe not as hip to all the trends.
There definitely were differences, for sure.
They kept the farm; dad’s brother worked the land,
and shared the profits and the loss each year
We went back “home” for funerals and planned
someday, for one of us, a farm career.

After dad died, I moved back for a spell,
and tried to make that rural place my own;
but once again, the winters were like hell,
and things had gone to pot, or overgrown.
So now, since no one else expects to move
back there, we’re letting go of all the land.
Let someone else who’s got something to prove
Take over, and from that place, make their stand.

17 AUG 2003

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