Taking in the scenery and its opportunities
I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I did live in the country. We were about two miles from the center of my hometown of Neodesha, Kansas, population roughly 3,000 at that time.
Although my home was surrounded by wheat fields, I didn’t give them any thought. I guess you could say I was a city girl in a town a hundred miles from nowhere. We had dogs and cats and the occasional copperhead, but pigs and cows were not my thing.
In 1998, I married a guy from South Dakota who grew up surrounded by farm activities that instilled in him a love of nature and an appreciation for all kinds of agriculture. Over the last 20 years, he has educated me and I have grown to also appreciate the land on which I was raised. In this current shelter at home period, one of our routines has been taking evening drives in the country to witness the activity and growth in the fields around Austin.
In a letter dated April 23, 1883, George Hormel wrote to his mother about the scenery he saw in his monthly travels:
“Everything is beginning to look green and fresh and it is just lovely to travel through the state and every month see how every field of grain has improved. Farmers are all busy now working in the field and mostly everyone is through seeding, and a good part of the grain is up.”
George wrote this on Reynolds House stationary from Atlantic, Iowa, in the southwestern part of the state. At this point in his life, he was 22 years old and traveling through Iowa and the southern part of Minnesota as a hide buyer. He had seen and experienced a great deal by this time, so he was able to recognize the benefit of successful farmers.
About 10 years later he encountered James J. Hill in St. Paul and saw how Hill was teaching settlers in the uncultivated upper Midwest about farming opportunities they hadn’t yet recognized. Hill understood that his railroad business would have a better chance of success if he partnered with those who worked the land along the tracks.
He said, “I cannot expect my railroad to make money until I first put money into the hands of farmers along my right of way.”
George Hormel didn’t grow up on a farm, but like me, he learned from the environment and the people around him. Get out and go for a drive. Appreciate the land and those who are working hard to serve you and me with what they produce.
Hump Day History
•oon, Wednesday, May 6
Featuring History and Tours of lesser seen locations in our community. Locations to be determined. Presented on Facebook Live