Published on Thursday, March 20, 2014
The smell of soap and wax contaminated the air. Sunrays beamed through the newly cleaned windows and a brisk, but refreshing breeze swirled through the shop doors. Tools used to tighten bolts, make adjustments, and fix parts clattered as they reached their destination. In the distance, I could hear the rustle from a broom gliding across the floor. And every so often, you could hear the song of a bird in love.
A masterpiece was in the making. And the composer...spring.
The sheet music included every rustle, rumble, chirp, ping, bark, spray, bang, and laugh. I’ve seen 78 springs at Woodward Family Farms, and even though each year is different, there are two things that remain the same – preparation for spring planting and spring cleaning.
As the tunes of spring played in the background, my mind drifted to the original homestead and memories from years ago. A time when preparing for spring planting was a much different task. And well, it was a little tougher.
The “shop” was a big, red bank barn. There wasn’t heat. No cement floors. No overhead doors. Sure, there was electricity, but it required several electrical cords, and one heck of an imagination.
Built in the early 1900s, the red bank barn wasn’t just a symbol of our farm, but a symbol of farming. As you pulled into Woodward Family Farms, a white four post fence lined the gravel lane. You couldn’t miss Big Red. (Or me, if you looked close enough.)
Big Red didn’t just stand tall, she stood proud. With a white silo perfectly situated on the west end, the south side was home to the cattle lot. We raised Angus cattle. And let me tell you, the man in charge loved his cattle. Around the corner and facing the north were two large, white sliding doors. As they opened, the smell of alfalfa, corn feed, manure, and grease greeted you with a kiss on the nose.
Big Red was larger than life, comprised of three floors and each with their own personality. The wood floors on the main level creaked beneath your soles, and if you looked close enough, you could see movement from a momma cow and her baby through the cracks.
Besides hay in the loft, you might catch a young child swinging on the hay hook rope from one side to the other. Laughter would erupt and a shrill of pure joy filled the air.
But spring at the original homestead wasn’t just about what happened in Big Red, it’s what took place in the gravel lot. For nearly 40 springs, I watched the Woodward men change oil, repair broken tractor parts, adjust planter settings, and wash equipment in a gravel barn lot.
The Woodward men, Paul, Rand and Ross in the gravel barn lot at the original homestead.
During spring, as the snow melted, the gravel barn lot turned into a gravel swamp. Where children stomped in mud puddles for play, the Woodward men had to work. Many times, they were lying on their backs, in the gravel swamp, trying to find that cantankerous part.
Today, even though the Woodward men have changed “shops,” the chores, hard work, and to-do lists remain the same. And me, well I still have a front row seat to all the action. If you remember from my previous story about Barn Lot Memories, I like to consider myself the showpiece of the farm. As the first tractor ever used on the farm, a 1934 John Deere Model A, I’ve watched the Woodward family, my family, prep for spring planting 78 times.
That's me, along with the youngest Woodward generation, Austin. Even though this was taken several years ago, I haven't aged a bit.
Each spring, spirits are high, anxious for the start of a new year, new life in the fields, and new experiences. You only get a couple months to hear the beautiful melodies Spring composes each year. If you listen closely, you can hear the dedication and passion they have for agriculture in each note.
Now if you’ll excuse me, they just pulled the planter in the shop for a little more tweaking. And since this musical masterpiece has yet to be finished, I can't wait to listen.
Author: Ashley Fischer
Categories: Why I Farm
Tags: agriculture, farming, Why I Farm, #whyifarm, John Deere, corn, Woodward Family Farms, farm, soybeans, tractor, corn seed, family farm, homestead, planter, barn
Marketing Communications Manager at Beck's.
3/25/2014 10:08 AM
That's a great story! Beautifully written. Thanks!