The Farm

“We’re going to the farm.”

“I think it’s back at the farm!”

“When we were at the farm…”

The Farm. When in certain places and in certain company, “The Farm” means the same thing to everyone who is in the know.  I work on one farm, but when I’m referring to “The Farm” around these parts, everyone knows it’s in reference to Spring Creek Farm.  Even though these two farms are only about a mile away from each other, one is “The Farm” and one is “Sun Circle.”  When in North Dakota, where there are hundreds of farms, “The Farm” is Evan’s parents’ farm.  When in Minnesota, where there are also hundreds of farms,”The Farm” is my mom’s place in central Minnesota.

The old horse and cow barn.

The old horse and cow barn at the Minnesota The Farm

I guess it isn’t too interesting that we do this, we all refer to “home” or “the house” or “the store” and nearly anyone would understand what we are referring to…but the farm seems different somehow.  The “the” carries more gravity, to me.  Perhaps it’s because of the familiarity one has with the singular farms in their lives?  Or maybe it’s just because I have farm fascination and think it should be special somehow.

One of the major parts of referring to a place as The Farm is that one or more people in the conversation are very familiar with the land.  The Farm in Palmer is well known by many–it is a place for learning, growing, exploring and exercising for students, teachers, farmers and community members.  It is over 700 acres, but it is a piece of land that I am incredibly familiar with from a couple years of hiking its trails, leading groups of all ages and working the fields.  Evan’s family has lived on The Farm in Valley City for about sixty years.  His grand father could spot arrow heads from a tractor, his cousins have bird watched in the hills and he and his brothers have discovered North Dakota’s second largest waterfall in their explorations.

The new Hollywood-esque sign that identifies the township of Fairfield, Minnesota.

The new Hollywood-esque sign that identifies the township of Fairfield, Minnesota.

The high-lighted “The Farm” today is my mom’s place in Fairfield, Minnesota.  I visited a few weeks ago with Ava, and had the opportunity to explore while getting some work done.  It isn’t really a working farm…my mom got it almost twenty years ago as-is–it came with some raspberry plants, a cat and some hay fields.  As a kid, my brothers and I would wade through the hay fields to find old car parts and to explore the old out-buildings.  As a teenager and college student, I would only visit The Farm on Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, spending the least amount of time there as possible.

I love that raspberries never give up!  The neglected plants at The Farm still produce tasty treats.

I love that raspberries never give up! The neglected plants at The Farm still produce tasty treats.

One of the hay fields was disced last year, but the new hay seed was bad so now it's full of beautiful prairie plants.  Check out this gorgeous Mullein, it's huge, nearly eight feet tall!

One of the hay fields was disced last year, but the new hay seed was bad so now it’s full of beautiful prairie plants. Check out this gorgeous Mullein, it’s huge, nearly eight feet tall!

The biggest milkweed I've ever seen--come and get it, monarchs!

The biggest milkweed I’ve ever seen–come and get it, monarchs!

Tansy along the drive way

Tansy along the drive way, it keeps away the ants, ya know?

As I get older I really enjoy my time at The Farm and wish I could spend more time there!  Alas, I have been living very far away for the last six years and my visits are short and few.  On our whirlwind midwest tour, we had the opportunity to visit for a bit over a day.  While Ava was napping one morning I decided that I should mow the lawn.  In order to do that I had to first pick up all of the sticks and debris from the grass so the always-on-the-fritz mower wouldn’t jam.  I ended up getting distracted in the best of ways–seeing beauty around every turn and taking photographs of this lovely little farm.

photo 5

photo 4


Love the old bikes!

Love the old bikes!

photo 3

Old milking stanchion and fan.

Old milking stanchion and fan.

Anyone know what this is?

Anyone know what this is?

Isn't this door perfect?  I want family photos in front of it.

Isn’t this door perfect? I want family photos in front of it.

When I asked my mother if I could feature her The Farm on my blog, she said something along the lines of: “What are you going to show them? I know, my good line of heritage gophers!”  New gopher holes were one of the things we discovered in our walk-about.  The land there isn’t farmed much these days, a neighbor hays the fields and my brothers hunt deer in the back.  Without the intimacy of farming the land, it’s important, to me and my family at least, to get to know the land some how.  It’s easy for bad things–whether they be people, animals, water or weeds to start taking over large parcels of land when they aren’t observed.  Who wants bad things abusing a good The Farm?

Necessary protection from the skeeters and horse flies!

Necessary protection from the skeeters and horse flies!

In my mowing preparation I got to see places and things I hadn’t explored for a decade, and it was lovely.  I found myself fantasizing a bit about putting the old out buildings to use with a few animals and some new tools.  I imagined rows of vegetables contouring one of the hillier fields and wondered if that would ever happen.  Will it?  Who knows, but a Farmgirl can dream.  One thing a dreaming Farmgirl can’t get to?  Actually mowing the lawn…sorry, mom.

What is The Farm in your life?  How do you get to know the land, buildings and creatures that call it home?

Until next time,

Sending you peace and love from AK,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl


  1. Diana Henretty says:

    We live on the edge of a little town, Noel Mo. But our favorite thing to do is go on country drives and look at the farms. We will take the back roads rather than the freeways or turnpikes going to Oklahoma. Some along the way have gardens that are larger than the farmhouses, as their front yards, what a welcomed greeting.
    But right now we are home for a few weeks, feeding and caring for orphaned kittens left by an old, stray mama cat that usually has them under our shed every year, but this year had them where I could get to them, since she cannot care for them.
    We keep telling each other we must take down the old sign on the back door “Strays Welcome Here”….:O) The feedings every 2 hours are not easy for me, but the love
    and lessons from these little critters are worth it all!
    Happy Summer’s Ending! Diana

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Your drives sound beautiful, Diana. Thanks for sharing! Caring for kittens isn’t easy–my mom, brothers and I used to care for litters when I was younger. They grow so quickly, though, and those kittens will be great cats with all of the human interaction they are getting. Happy Summer’s Ending to you, too!

  2. Charlotte says:

    Looks like your Mom has a ‘hit and miss” engine. It may have been used to run a milking system or any of a dozen things on the farm.
    Our farm was divided and sold to several neighbors when my father died. My husband and I were able to farm some of it for awhile but eventually ended up with only 20 acres that we beef, truck and chicken farmed for a while. We stopped when my husband got sick and we gave 5 acres each to our 3 children and kept 5 for ourselves.
    Our one daughter and son-in-law are interested in goat farming to keep the weeds down and for fiber. Maybe we will be able to get some chickens back, I really miss them.
    Now we have bears, coyotes, fox, deer, bobcats, and the typical rabbits, squirrels, etc. roaming the woods and fields that I used to play in. Very different from when I was a child and never saw anything wilder than a groundhog.
    Our old barn and the houses and outbuildings are still there but they are homes for others and no Holsteins roam the pastures anymore.
    Enjoy your years on your farms, our children say they were the best times for them and I know they were for me.

  3. Gail Pederson says:

    Dennis (on the ND Farm) says your mystery item is a vacuum pump to allow the use of a milking machine…figuring there’s a stanchion there. Did it turn? He says they are quite rehab-able.

  4. My “Farm” is my 2/3 acre in a small fishing village on the Eastern shore of
    Virginia. I love this place and when I married after my husband died and my sons were grown I moved to a town 8 miles away, It makes me sad to see my little piece of heaven just sit, I go every chance I get to see how things are. I have someone to mow and keep things straight around the outside but trying to rent it became terrible. No one keeps it like you would and I haven’t rented it now for 2 years. You know what they say about a house that doesn’t have living breathing souls in it. It dies too.

  5. I’ve lived in a yurt for over. 7 years and loved every moment and we are only a few weeks away from moving into the house we built!
    Keep farming !

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thanks, Terces! Sorry the yurt post wasn’t up when you checked. I was having some technical difficulties on my end! It is up now. Living in a yurt is a treat. Congrats on your new home!

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