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Exclusive Article

More Stories from Old Farmer

Introduction: Old Farmer, a.k.a. Dale Jensen began posting messages to our discussion forums at the grand age of 75. He shared many stories of his life with us until shortly before his passing in October of 1999. This is the third series of stories that we have published. There is a link at the end of the article to previous stories.

The Demise of a Family Farm
by Old Farmer

I bought an old family farm back in 1974, about a year after I bought the 80 acres around it. I was just starting to get big in farming and my brother and I were buying up all kinds of land. The farm I bought was the farm where my best friend grew up as a kid. They use to come over to our house and help with the farm work a lot.

The other day my son parked his payloader at that old place we got and he told me he's pushing the place down but its been raining today so he couldnít do it. So I went and took a last look at the farm. I walked into the barn and felt a eerie feeling... I got chills as I could hear the old John Deere at work and the cows in the barn. I looked around and found an old pitch fork, probably the one we used to pitch bundles when we threshed. There was a lot of old stuff in there. I moved on to the old grainery where I found an old corn sheller and the beat up grill from a Farmall M.

Next I went to the feed shed were I found old tools and gauges from a old Dodge brothers car or truck. The chicken shed had collapsed and I could see the twisted pieces of tin that were once feeders for chickens. The hog house was still in good shape but the lightning rods had been shot. Then there was the small tin shed falling down where they kept the tractors. I went in and saw a old John Deere jack and a rusty back wheel from an M or an H Farmall. The old work bench still had old parts on it. I then looked in the trees where I found the remains of a New Idea manure spreader and a 101 picker. Behind the barn sat a old Model T frame.

I decided to leave then so I went back to my truck and drove home. I started thinking about that place, how the family farms are going away because of selfish farmers like me buying up all their land. If I could do it over again I don't think I ever would have gone big.

When I looked through that farm and saw all the stuff I remembered all the small farms having old junk around and the old sheds. It was a way of life. Now, the big farms have new homes and big Morton buildings- but thatís not the way it was back then. We all built the barn or the hog house together, everybody just farmed a small piece and that was plenty. To me it was a simpler way of life.

Regrets?

You know I've been farming for years and I got to thinking, was it all a waste? What did I gain? It's all a gamble... seems you lose money. Like now, this year, we got acres of corn and I mean acres and prices are down and there's no place for it to go. It seems like I should of done something else like be a mechanic on tractors or been a tractor dealership or something. Instead I busted my back pulling out rocks and stumps to try to clear land to farm and turned it into a big farm that has so much land I donít have any money to farm it! I say that we should get rid of our 8400 acres, stop renting some land and become a bit smaller. But they won't listen - it's all going to come back and haunt us some day that we killed small farms. I wish I still had a small farm. I remember that everybody farmed a small piece, had a tractor, some chickens, 10 hogs and 15 cows. That was a family farm. When I think about it, it's like the ending of a poem I read yesterday - we must keep with the times. You know sometimes I wonder if it was all for nothing. Did I do the right thing? Should I have been a doctor instead? Sometimes I wonder and my only answer is - I donít know.

Well there is no going back now I made up my mind back in the 1940s and I cant change that. But still I wonder, if I would have been a tractor mechanic would I be where I am now? If I were a doctor would I be rich now? I don't know but I think I made the right choice... I have a good a family and thatís probably all I really need.

Stories from previous issues:
Collection One
Collection Two

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