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Strong Family Roots

4 Apr

Roots.  As a farmer I can appreciate the strength behind these tiny little lines that connect plants into the soil.  They bring nutrients up to the green leaves, they allow for our beautiful views and our strong crops.  But while those ideas run strong in what I want to touch on today, those aren’t exactly the roots I’m talking about.  Today I wanted to tell you about my family roots, arguably they may just be the strongest I have ever known, they are what have kept me grounded, kept our family solid, and yet allowed us all to also have wings and to succeed.  These roots AND wings didn’t come from just anywhere, they came straight from Marlin and Arlene Hammond.

This is a photo of our “family tree”.  All 66 of us, starting in the middle with Marlin & Arlene

I call them grandpa and grandma, they are also often referred to as “the greats” in our house.  And this year they both celebrated their 95th birthdays, and their 75th wedding anniversary.

Which is something to be treasured, and more importantly something to celebrate!  So that’s just what we did last weekend.  Our family (all wearing matching blue t-shirts in the photos) all got together with friends from the community where Marlin and Arlene have spent their days.  Lots of catching up, eating cake, laughter over old stories, and just being thankful for our wonderful family that started with just these two love birds back in 1944.

Grandpa & Grandma on their wedding day in 1944.

Marlin and Arlene went to high school together, but never dated until after graduating. They both came from hard working families, farming families, and they continued that legacy.  Having many talents however grandpa was more of a jack of all trades.  Doing construction, selling real estate.  And grandma herself started her own fabric shop in Woodburn.  These two were as traditional as they come, and yet innovative and not afraid to work hard for what they wanted.  And they also get a kick out of life at every stage.  I think the one thing I always think of when I think of them is how they know how to laugh, boy oh boy do we laugh together!  It might help that my kids are at a general “if you’re not laughing then you’d probably be crying” stage of child management.  But I learned a lot of that from these two.  For example…this was the only photo I took on this fun celebration day….it’s horrible but it’s also hilarious…

I had the pleasure of sitting down one afternoon with my grandma to ask her about marriage and advice for married couples.  I was officiating the wedding of a good friend and my cousin and I thought who better to start them off on the right foot than grandpa and grandma who had been married (at that time) for 73 years.

So in honor of their 75th I thought I would pass it along to all of you.

So while you are both just starting this journey of marriage, and I know you will get a LOT of advice as the years go by.  But I thought it would be only fitting to ask the longest married couple in our family if they had any words of wisdom for the shortest married couple in our family.  So I sat down Marlin & Arlene, who have been married for 73 years to find out what the secret is to making marriage & love last.  I wanted advice for you as newlyweds, when you hit year 25, and then once you get to year 73! 

Their first year was a bit unorthodox, grandpa was in the war and gone basically the entire time, grandma says it still gives her chills to think about how hard that time was.  She said for the first years, don’t worry about all the nitty gritty.  Something will always cause a trouble or a problem, so you might as well make the most of it.  She also showed me a letter from a friend in 1944 that she often thought of, it says that in marriage everything is 50-50 but sometimes things can get 60-40 or worse, but they can be righted always.

So what about at 25 years into marriage?  They said that they hit a time where they got to really enjoy life again, to reconnect, new careers and dreams were able to get started again.  At the end of 25 years, they realized that marriage is full of seasons, and you have to keep your commitment strong so you can both enjoy the dividends of that lifelong investment in love.

And finally after 73 year down the path of marriage…when I asked what that is like, grandma just said, “To take care of each other, to have created such a happy home, to have someone to talk with, reminisce with and share all those memories.  It’s just marvelous!”  When you get there, you get to spend your whole life with your person, it’s completely worth all of it.  I want to also add that grandpa and grandma were friends for years before they ever dated, which I think means you two are also off to very similar and very good start.

These two have created a legacy that will extent well beyond their lives, my life and as we know for now at least into the 5th generation.  I can’t imagine all that they have seen in their lifetime.  I can hardly believe what I have seen in only a third of that time.  But what I do know is that the roots and the wings that we have all gotten from them will prove timeless, even as the years pass by.Here are two articles with a few great stories:
Hammonds Celebrate 75 Years Together
Engagements: Marlin & Arlene Hammond

**A special thanks to cousin Brock for all the awesome photos that I borrowed.  To Kristen for all the work on the graphic designs for T-shirts.  And for everyone in the fam for all the help organizing, cutting cake, setting up and taking down!  Family efforts for sure!

 

Crimson Clover Field That Just Can’t Win

20 Feb

I feel like every year we have “that field”.  The one that just can’t get a break.  It might be the weather, the timing of planting, or any number of factors…but no matter what it just can’t win.

This year it’s one of our crimson clover fields.  This darn field has been through it all and while I’m over here praying it actually really does make it through it all, here’s what happened.

Fall Challenge:
Matt heads down to go look at the crimson field down by the river and my phone rings, “Holy…(um, we will use the word cow here) cow, the field is disappearing and fast!”  It’s early fall and it’s been warm, and the slugs have been feasting.  In very short order slugs from a neighboring field moved in with such vigor that they literally ate a 50′ strip down the entire length of the field!  This area completely disappeared within just a few days time!

Early Winter Challenge:
Matt heads down to go look at the crimson field down by the river and my phone rings, “Holy cow, you should see the ruts in our field, someone went mudding all over and it did a number!”  Crop damage is hard to tell at this point, ruts will be the largest factor come harvest when we are trying to drive through and over them.  This all makes me want to scream and put someone in that darn tractor for the hours, and hours, and hours it took to get that field perfectly flat and planted.  So frustrating!

Late Winter Challenge:
Matt heads down to go look at the crimson field down by the river and my phone rings, “Holy cow, our field is gone.  No really except for about 30 feet along the road, the field has disappeared in just four days.”  This picture captures the whole story.  In just a matter of a few short days a flock, or more correctly flocks of geese moved onto our field and had a feeding frenzy!  50 acres of beautiful crimson clover eaten down to nubs on the ground.

This is a photo of where they didn’t eat…isn’t is so pretty?!

This poor field, I’m telling you it just can’t win this year!  The good news is that we got most of the slug damaged areas replanted and it sprouted just in time for the geese to eat.  But the good news there is that it should grow out of it and just be a later harvest than the rest of the crimson we have (fingers crossed).  As for the jerks that drove all over our field…that one I’m still upset about!  This field still has until early July to try to survive before we harvest, here’s to hoping it gives it a good try and gets left alone for awhile.

But it all just goes to show, sometimes you can’t anticipate challenges that are going to hit your farm, your crops, or your land.  Sometimes you can go look at fields every day, and somehow miss one or two and just like that lose a crop.  Sometimes you decide that you and the boys are going to go look at the field down by the river instead of Matt.

And sometimes (maybe the most important lesson here) you learn that you just don’t answer the phone anymore when…

Matt heads down to go look at the crimson field down by the river and your phone rings, “Holy cow…”

Life Beyond the Farm & Having it All

12 Dec

I have found it a very common theme that farmers or those involved in agriculture have a reach that goes much beyond their own acres of land.  Maybe it’s because we are traditionally from smaller communities that have been built with volunteers, or maybe it’s because we have needed help at some point too and have always had a network to reach out to just over the fence row.  Or maybe it’s because we are bored…oh wait…nope…scratch that…it’s definitely not the reason. I have yet to meet a bored farmer!

I don’t often talk about my life outside of farming and family on here.  And probably a lot of it has to do with the fact that I never think of it as interesting or worth blogging about, because it’s just what I have always done and what has always been the norm for my life.  I grew up in a family that volunteered and gave their time where it was needed, and it’s something that runs as deep in my blood as the soil that I farm.  I, like many other farmers, volunteer as a firefighter and EMT in our community.  I also sit on many boards, mostly agriculturally involved.  I give a lot of time to these efforts of making things better for my fellow farmers, making things safer for my neighbors and overall helping where needed in the community.

This is a photo from the Woodburn High School Fire back in 2012, when I was still “Kirsch”

So all that being said, as many of you know I am expecting our third little baby this coming spring.  I actually headed up to the fire department just last night to have department photos taken and looked like this in my uniform shirt.  Which was hilarious but also made me a little sad.

A few months back I had to make a number of phone calls that I truly didn’t want to make, conversations about me stepping down, stepping back, and in some cases leaving all together.  Off boards with friends who have become family, folks who I have sat next to over years, in some cases over 10 years, at the local fire station, farm bureau board room or even coffee shop.  These meetings were more than just meetings, it’s where I learned some of the most valuable lessons of not only about how to be a good fireman, EMT or farmer; but a friend, a good colleague, and a solid person.

At a Marion County Farm Bureau Meeting, showing that “I Farm I Vote”

So last night when I tried (and really I did try) to button up that uniform shirt for what might be the last time in a long time, it was very bittersweet.  It was a blatant sign that I had made a choice, it was a sign that having it all doesn’t always mean you have it “all” and that decisions no matter how tough, have to be made.  I know I have made the right choice in moving back from my involvement, but it doesn’t make it any easier to say “see you later” to the folks who have made life here in this small town, and within the farming industry, so amazing.  I have no doubt that I’ll be back, remember it’s in my blood…and for now farming and having three kids under 4 (which yes I realize is still a lot) will take my time and focus.

I often have people ask me how I do it “all” and I often don’t really know what to say.  But I think now I’ll say that having it “all” doesn’t mean that you get to have everything you want right now.  It means to me that I have to be realistic and make choices that make what I can handle in the “now” all the more worth it.  Moving forward with life is not a choice, time will keep passing, but it does mean we get to make choices in the direction we head.  So for now, I’m heading back to the boys who are calling “mommy” (all the time!) and back to the fields to look for slugs.  For now that’s where my “all” is, and for now that’s all I need.

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