Four miles south of Saint James on County Highway 27, past the cemetery where the gypsy queen is buried in the mausoleum that bears the name of Thompson, you’ll come across a gravel road on the left. Two miles along this, kicking up dust and giving quick looks in the ditches for the wild asparagus that grows in spring, you turn right onto a narrower gravel road. Up ahead is a grove of trees. Slowing down for the tractors and other farm implements, you crawl along until you come to the driveway that leads into my farm.
It’s an old farm. The main part of the house is well over one hundred years old. Additions were built on as the years and the family progressed. Grandma’s dowry paid for some of it, I think. Her father was a railroader and lived in town. Grandpa’s folks were farmers all the way back to Germany. They did pretty well for themselves. Grandpa’s sister had a new farm down the road as her dowry. Grandpa inherited the smaller homestead.
There are apple trees, lilac bushes, and a big garden located on the far side of the brooder house. An old grindstone sits along the side of the garage slowly melting with rust. A pump close to the huge cottonwood tree brings up the sweet cold water that your summer sweating body craves.
The corncrib down by the machine shed is a haven for field mice. Tiny grey bodies with twitching whiskers eat well over the long winters. Grandpa encouraged the farm cats keep the population down, but they were never successful in getting them all.
Passed the big red barn with its grey cement silo is the path to the alfalfa field where Grandpa taught me to drive. It became the cornfield, followed by other crops over the years. Crop rotation was a religion to Grandpa who didn’t have a lot of money to spare for the chemical fertilizers after he gave up the cattle and lost their manure.
The grandparents are both gone now. Dad, too. If you want to get technical, the farm disappeared about 18 years ago. Sold to a neighbor who tore down the buildings, uprooted the grove of trees, and plowed the soil under where corn, alfalfa, soybeans, and oats now take their turns growing under southern Minnesota skies. But it still remains in my heart and my mind’s eye. I see it clearly. It is mine.