4/10/2012

I: A to Z Challenge: This is the Palouse



I: for "I" or "Me."

Truthfully, I couldn't think of a thing that begins with "I" that describes a location or an event on the Palouse, and so I decided to insert myself into the landscape.

How did "I" come to live on the Palouse? Originally from Western Washington, I had always disliked the rainy climate and urban congestion of the Seattle area, and loved the drier weather and wide open feel of Eastern Washington. After graduating from high school, I decided to attend Washington State University in Eastern Washington, where I met my future husband.

We were in our senior year. He was majoring in Agricultural Economics. I was majoring in Foods, Nutrition and Institution Management. We met in a class in Logic.

I had never been on a farm, but the lifestyle intrigued me. I came of age when people were interested in the idea of "Back to the Land." Nowadays, for most people, that means urban farming. My daughter, who lives nearby in a town of about 20,000, has a large back yard where she grows a vegetable garden and has chickens and ducks. She used to have three goats, until she became too busy with three children.

For my generation, "Back to the Land" was more a dream of actually moving into the country and living on an old homestead and actually farming for a living, if possible. After college graduation, I married my farmer/rancher/cowboy. It was a romantic time. John Denver was huge, and so were his songs, "Take Me Home, Country Road." "Grandma's Feather Bed." "Thank God I'm a Country Boy."

My husband's family was among the original settlers of the area. His grandfather came to the Palouse in 1873. He and his wife had seven sons and a daughter or two. He was successful enough to hand down a quarter-section (160 acres) to each son--no small feat in the days of pre-agricultural mechanization. In other words, when the Palouse's steep hills were farmed with horses.

During the Great Depression, most of his sons lost their farms. My husband's grandfather was able to hold on to his land. Over the decades, fewer and fewer families in our area have been able to keep farming for a living. Many men farm part-time and hold down part-time jobs. Many wives, like me, work part-or-full time.

Our farm supports three generations of our family. We are not sure whether we farm enough acreage for our grandson to come into the operation in another 10-15 years. Time will tell, but he, like so many young men in our area, may need to find another career, a different lifestyle, to support himself and his family.

5 comments:

  1. Seven years ago I moved from Denver to Terre Haute, population 59K (if you count all the college students). It's a very rural area and we've gone "back to the basics" on a lot of things. Love, love, love buying food at the farmer's markets. Have taken up knitting and crafting and writing on my mystery novel whilst holding down marketing director day job. If you have time, visit my blog at www.dianeweidenbenner.com Happy blogging!

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  2. I really enjoyed this post. It is sad that the farming industry is getting smaller. We have dairy farmers in the family & I know that they struggle. I heard someone say today that God never gives us anything that we can't handle. That saying really spoke to me.

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  3. I always love hearing how someone came to be where they are. And since you are IN the Palouse, "I" is perfectly appropriate! It's interesting that you talk of the differences between types of farming, and the shrinking of farming. I keep wondering if 'kids' in the next generation or two will know much about farming... ?

    Cat

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  4. Great photo! I always loved the romantic notion of farming, but I'm not sure I'd really like it as much as I think I would. I do love wide open spaces, too. Oh..John Denver...loved his music back then!!

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  5. Oh, I LOVE this photo, Cathy!

    I too am a big fan of rural living, and I hate to see the farms on both my dad's and mom's sides being sold off bit by bit. I hope to have a "hobby farm" someday, with room for goats, chickens, gardens, and maybe even a couple of cows. We always had as much growing up, and it's hard to imagine a future for my kids that doesn't include shoveling muck. :) We'll see what life brings, I guess!

    It was really great to learn more about how you and your husband met!

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