Friday, September 30, 2016

Tough Times at the Harrison Farm

My friends, this is a post which I do not want to compose, but I know I need to say something.  The signs went up today for the auction of my grandfather's farm.  My heart is so sad, and I can almost physically feel the blood gushing down my back from all the knives that have been shoved into it.  A large sign was hung directly across the road from the farmhouse, so I have the opportunity to have to answer my neighbors when they stop to ask why in the world the farm is being sold.  This does, at least, give me the opportunity to affirm to my neighbors that the land is being auctioned against my wishes.  And then I seem to start crying every single time.  

do not have much to say at this point except to offer a few items . . .

am adamantly opposed to the auction of the land.  

I made two offers to my aunts to purchase the farmland.  The first was at the appraised value, which they declined.  I also offered to let them name their price, which they declined.

My grandfather passed when I was 19, and thus could not have envisioned that I would return to the farm after college and spend my life here.  I cannot fault him for not planning his estate in a different way.  

My grandmother had been in deep struggles with dementia at the end of her life, and while I wish she would have planned her estate differently, this is the reality of the situation.  Her trust mandated that the farm was to be sold.  The trust administrator made clear that my aunts could have agreed on a direct sale to me at any value.  They chose not to do so.

I will be at the auction on 11/3/16 to bid on the 44 acres that surround the farmhouse & barns, in an effort to preserve the pastures where my livestock graze -- which are part of the land to be auctioned.  Anyone who bids against me will be risking reciprocals including and not limited to a large army of goats rising up against them.

My heart is very, very sad, yet I am trying to focus on the good things in my world.  My grandmother made it possible that the farmhouse and the barns were not included with the rest of the estate.  I have a home and my animals have a barn.  In fact, I have a really beautiful red barn in which five generations of Harrisons have tended animals.  I have a wonderful ramshackle farmhouse with beautiful memories from my youth of my mother and my grandfather and my grandmother.  I have crazy and amazing animals who make this farm an adventure.  My mother taught me independence and tenacity and stubbornness.  My grandfather encouraged me that I could do whatever I put my mind to doing.  He taught me our family history and he instilled in me a love for farming.  My grandmother nurtured me in my youth, and stressed to me the importance of honesty & loyalty.  No auction, no trust, and no one can ever take from me these things.  

I have spent nearly my whole life working this farm.  During planting & harvest when I was small, I would take my grandfather lunches in the field.  Once I was old enough to be trusted with a tractor, he trained me on his Oliver 1850.  I was eight when I began baling hay with my grandfather in the field across the creek.  I was nine when my grandfather taught me to drive in a 1978 green Suburban when we were working south of the Baird House.  I would help him load lambs and unload coal.  I was his companion on errands to the feed store and the hardware store and Mid States wool growers.  Every spring I was allowed to stay home from school to be his assistant on the day he docked & castrated lambs.  And through all of those adventures, we talked.  He talked about politics and religion and economics and philosophy.  He told me about our family history, and his childhood, and who we were as Harrisons.  Beyond his words, he demonstrated to me every day what it meant to be kind and just and courageous -- in small ways and in difficult situations.  Because I paid attention to those lessons, it hurts keenly to know the land on which he spent his life will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  I suppose if one had not paid attention to such lessons, it would be easy to sell it off for top dollar.  But I did listen, and I will never forget what he taught me.

Harrison Farm may be much smaller in acreage than it was in previous generations, however, it will continue.  I believe in this land, I believe in farming, and I am not going anywhere.  This place has magical creatures and beautiful spaces, and I know this farm can serve a purpose to connect people with animals and with farming -- whatever size it may be.  I know this is not the situation my mother would have wanted, or my grandfather, or my great-grandfather, or my great-great-grandfather . . . But this is the reality of my situation, and we will carry on.  The sun will come up the day after the auction, and I will figure out a way to make everything work, and the goats will be belligerent, and the chickens will complain, and it will be just another day.  I will carry on, and I will find ways to keep Harrison Farm going.  After all, tomorrow is another day.  (Cue inspiring & uplifting music!)

1 comment:

  1. So very sorry to read your post Katherine! Prayers you are able to continue your life's work on your homestead!