Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fred the Farmer

If you've looked at children's toys lately, you've seen Bob the Builder--videos, trucks, books, and other such items. Well, in our church there's Fred, the Farmer.
Typical of the surviving prairie farmers in this area, he has worked incessantly all his life to make a success of his farm, his town, and his church. He's in charge of the courthouse clock tower, the church cemetery upkeep, flower arrangements at church every Sunday, and a host of other voluntary tasks that quietly get done without anybody noticing...oh and he still farms, and, somewhere, he finds time to weld and build. (You're not much of a farmer around here if you're not also a mechanical engineer, painter, cement worker, and welder.)

One day, I asked Jean, Fred's wife, if my carpool and I could swing by her house and take some pictures and whether we would be attacked by the farm dog if we got out of the Suburban. (I hadn't seen him, but I just knew they would have a big old dog guarding the place)
"Sure, come by anytime," she told me. "and that dog won't bite you, but he just might lick you to death."

So, driving home from school a couple of days ago, we cut through the country. When we ran across Fred's house, I pulled in and talked to the man himself--just as he was leaving to plow a field.

"Go ahead and take all the pictures you want," he told us. "See, there's the new sculpture I'm working on. It's going to be a sphere--8 feet in diameter."

Sure enough, there it was in the driveway. "This rock pile," he continued, pointing to a tall stack of stones, "well, one night, soon after they put this line here to anchor the electric post after the last big ice storm, I came running out to check on something and tripped over I put this stack of rocks to keep that from happening again."

Tori and I snapped away; She really liked the metal silhouettes; I liked the birdhouses. They sit calmly in the garden against a wild prairie background, keeping little birds safe from the ever present threat of chicken hawks.
Anyway, here they are...a tribute to the ingenuity of Fred the Farmer, Jean, his wife, and their friendly, old brown dog, who followed us faithfully around trying to lick us to death.

P.S. Tonight my husband informed me that they are naming a bridge for Fred. He's famous around here for his county commissioner days. Doesn't surprise me in the least.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hit the Trail, Bessie

Cattle Trails are one of those things in life that seem mysterious to me. These bulky bovines have the entire field at their disposal. Yet, plodding down to the water, they stay in a line--so carefully placing their hooves that they create deep trails in the sod. Are they trying to save the grass for grazing, thus making their highways as narrow as possible? Or does the deepened rut comfort their feet with the knowledge that other cows have passed this way and survived? Humans, rushing for the water, would probably each make a beeline of his own, laying siege to the pond from every direction...maybe even staking out a claim in the form of a boat dock.

Elijah and Marie took this picture; they've developed a love for photographing the land around here. That same day, they found an old farm house in the area and took this picture of an ancient, abandoned boot.

What a hard, dry earth these prairie settlers conquered!

I loved the boot. It was like finding a footprint on the moon.