There are places of comfort, with special significance, on everyone’s farms and ranches. We all have our favorite places. For me, the places I like most on our farm have nostalgic connections to the family history of our place and my memories growing up here.
There is a vista, on a high hill north of our farmstead that rises about 100 feet above the home place that I really like. When I’m checking cows or fixing fence, I like to pause up there, and take a look at the old cottonwood trees that were most likely standing when my great-grandfather and grandfather took their lunches in the shade there after working in the fields under the hot summer sun. From that hill, on a windy day, I can hear the rattle of the cottonwood leaves as they bristle with the wind.
But my favorite spot on our farm has got to be our front porch swing. The other day, with the old swing falling apart, we purchased a new swing just like it, and installed it in the same place. Reflecting on the meaning of that old swing, my recollections are quite vivid. On that front porch in my childhood, I can remember sitting and laughing with my cousins. I recall crawling up on my parents’ laps and looking over the corn fields or oats fields to the south. I remember sitting quietly there as a youngster during the drought years of the late 1960s and early 1970s, praying with my family for rain. Or, when the storms would come, I recall praying there for protection of our crops and farm from the severe storms.
After a long dry spell in 1971, we sat on the swing and watched a cloudburst dump a half inch of rain on our thirsty crops, and when it had passed, we jumped up from the swing and splashed around in the puddles, with a full rainbow in view.
One hot, humid July evening in the mid-1970s, I watched the expression on my Dad’s face as he walked out onto that porch and sat on the swing, overlooking his nearly-ripened oats field after a hard hailstorm had destroyed it completely, and ruined the windows and shingles on our home and barns.
Now, my wife and I like to sit there in the evenings, play catch with the kids from the porch, or watch our older daughters play with their younger brothers on the swingset or in the yard. When my Dad passed away a few years ago, I spent several evenings on that swing, remembering the past and pondering the future, coming to grips with the loss.
It’s difficult to put into words what an object like a porch swing can mean to a family, but our swing means a lot to us. It is a place of fun, mourning and prayer for our family. It is a place to enjoy the rewards of farming life, and to ponder the quiet sounds of an evening around our place.
My wife is planning this week to apply some wood stain to our new swing, so it lasts in that spot as long as the previous one did.
So, here is this week’s discussion question. What special vistas or spots on your farm or ranch have special significance to your family? Let us know about your experiences.
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