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my home of the future
by margaret anderson

each experience in a person's life plays a part in determining their personality, way of life and life's accomplishments. memories of the past determine what they'll plan and which for the future. i have grown up i a rural community, attending school in a small town, knowing the ways of both the small town and the farm.

the farm, with all its pleasures and drudgeries holds me as it does few other farm girls. perhaps this magnet is agriculture and farm life in general , or perhaps it is just our farm. we have a large beautiful farm, flat but with a small wooded cut through by a very unromantic drainage ditch. this ditch serves two purposes - usefulness in draining the land and beauty it lends to the countryside with its quiet, clear water overshadowed by tall cottonwoods and entanglements of wild grapevines.

the barnyard, planned efficiently for large herds of feeder cattle and hogs, with two large barns, a corncrib and a brick silo rising majestically above it, is picturesquely settled beneath giant maples and cottonwoods. the long ramshackle machine shed along the west edge of the yards, and the tool shed, small and dark with the smell of grease throughout, houses the machinery, old harnesses, outmoded binder equipment and modern drills an saws. just east of this unpainted shed is d double garage, in which is found the huge water storage tank, and behind which is found a huge apple tree, rich with blossoms but scant in fruit. north of the house behind the honeysuckle hedge, the orchard stretches away to the north, to the ditch bank where wild grapevines and raspberries thrive. circling the county tile in spring are thousands of many-shaded violets blooming in the tangles shade.

as children with the neighbor broods all gathered together, playhouse were built in the vines on the nearly perpendicular banks, and rafts which actually did float. this was early in the summer, for later most of the water dried up. then we turned to the two-story tree hut built behind the machine shed. with awninged windows, real hinged doors and trap doors in the second floor and roof, we set up headquarters for the rubber gun fights, a colonial stockade of a refuge for experimental smokers. the younger children under the unobtrusive eye of my mother played across the road from the house in the tank by the windmill. shaded by the dense tangle of grapevines on the delicate steel framework, we sailed our battleships and ferries and drove our cars on the "highway" edge of the tank. toy towns were built in selected area - under the mulberry trees down by the ditch or under the apple tree behind the garage. but all our time wasn't play. there were chickens and ducks to be cared for, gardens to tend and the crops to cultivate and harvest. every morning meant getting the lazy cows from the far end of the dewy pasture, feeding the chickens and washing the separator. family policy was to get up early and get things done. when the boys were home, their chores would be pitching hay and silage or milking the six cows. when they were gone this lot fell to me. it's pleasant work to fork the heavy, odorous silage through the small square door and to hear it crash down into the cart ready to be wheeled out along the track and shoveled into the feed bunks. pitching hay is a different matter, demanding a technique for unpiling it easily without much effort, carrying huge piles of it on your fork through the air to the chute.

as spring drew near, we eagerly pitched hay away from one end of the barn for here was our homemade basketball court, on which we spent our leisure after school hours until the new hay came to fill the barns again.

our farm was a popular center to play in, for we had the big barns, the wooded areas and the dredged ditch, away from the watchful eyes of parents. they must have worried, yet probably became immune to the dangers threatening us. when we were children, nearly every neighboring family had at least three children whose parents were one of six or eight themselves.

three sets of brothers lived less than a mile apart, each set being related to the others. my father, with six children and my childless uncle and aunt across the section on a large farm were one and ralph and willie carlon were another, being opposites in farming ability, temperament an personality. ralph has a neat farm, two hard working boys and a pleasant dutiful wife. he is a very righteous deacon in the church and typically narrow-minded. willie isn't much of a farmer, but he's friendly , broadminded and loves to talk. he is generous and would do anything for you, but he's getting old, and as many old people, he has become difficult to live with or take care of. literally driven away from his own farm by his nagging daughter-in-law, he moved into this daughter's tiny rented farm home. after a few years of ungrateful treatment by his son and his wife, he boosted them out of the home place and moved himself and his daughter's family in. and as usual, the neighborhood took it all in, highly approving of the action.

the third set of brothers also built up prosperous farms, one a cattle feeder and the other a dairyman on the home place. being on the home place meant the building were older, smaller and inefficient, with an old house, desperately in need of remodeling. ed works hard but is a man who never gets quite finished with his work. a wonderful neighbor, he is willing to help with anything unless his wife influences him first. she is woman to be both condemned and pitied, for she is a homebody, with no outside interests. consequently, her energy is directed at feeling sorry for herself and gossiping about her neighbors. from my mother, and from experience with many of my neighbors, i have learned to which type of people one may talk freely, and the ones with whom i must weigh every word.

but in spite of their narrow-mindedness and extreme interest in everybody else's activities, they are good people to live among and it is a neighborhood where i would be happy to raise my children. there are so many advantages to a farming community, i want my children to share these same experiences-- haying and oats cutting with the dripping cups of lemonade and coffee, crisp cookies and tasty sandwiches eaten in the shade of a hay load or by a stubby oats shock. i want them to enjoy the ice skating on the dredged ditch and playing basketball in the barn, and just as i want them to enjoy the farm, i want them to realize its relation to other ways of life into which they will eventually enter.

so that they may have a richer life, i want them to grow up on the family farm, to acquire the heritage which can be theirs only by experience--living working and playing on the farm where family life is close and cooperative.

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