The land on was privileged enough to play on many days was the same land that my mom played on, my grandpa played on, my great-grandpa played on, and the land that my great-great grandpa thought would be a good place to start his homestead. It’s beautiful with its rolling hill pastures, giant white pine trees, and old forest growth. The yard, which was called "The Orchard", is filled with apple trees, walnut trees, and grape vines, planted by my great-great grandparents as they built up their homestead. The big barn, which was built in the early thirties stands next to the "old barn" which was built long before that. The house is a beautiful two story home, filled with the character that only an old farmhouse can have and built with the hands of my ancestors. This home was the birth place of my grandpa, who was born in one of the upper bedrooms and the funeral place of his brother, who died young. I wish I could put into words how much I love this place and the feeling I get from being there, but I just can’t seem to find the right ones. To walk in the yard, on the same path that my ancestors walked, to stand where they stood, to walk through the barn that was the livelihood of so many is almost magical to me. It’s like going back in time; I feel closer to those who I never met but wish I had. It’s like they’re still there, walking right alongside me.
I have so many wonderful memories of the farm, and I've heard so many stories about the people who lived there. Growing up, we spent our summers at the farm with Grandma and Grandpa and our days were filled with play. Everyday, we went down to the pond to swim, jumping off of the dock that Grandpa had built and cooling off from the hot summer sun. My cousins and I would swim for what felt like hours with Grandma, enjoying the water in our own private swimming hole.
In the spring, we harvested maple syrup from "The Hardwood Hill". Each piece of land has a name and a story. The Hardwood Hill is beautiful, especially in spring. It is on top of a lush green hillside overlooking the farm and the rest of the countryside around it. It is home to hundreds of mature maple trees, beautiful spring flowers, and one of the largest and oldest oak trees around (though it fell very recently, which was terribly sad). In the winter, it is a wonderful sledding hill too! My grandpa's older sister told me of how they used to make maple syrup there when she was young. She said one year, during prohibition, the family was cooking sap all through the night up on the hill. In the morning, a police officer was at their door inquiring about the syrup. A neighbor had called the cops to investigate what they suspected was a moonshine operation! But, only syrup!
My grandpa remembers his grandpa telling him of the Native Americans that lived close by. At night, you could hear the beat of their drums as they played their songs. Often, on the way to town, they would stop and rest at the farmhouse as a halfway point, staying the night sometimes.
It's stories like these that make this farm so special. My family has lived there for generations. One after another since the very first one came to this country. If we used that farm, we would be the fifth generation to farm it! The farm is the beginning of our family here in the United States, a story of pioneering and hard work, and I think that is part of the magic for me.
History will always be something that I love to learn, and that helps to shape how I live today too. How will I be remembered? Will there be a little one someday who yearns to learn about me and how I lived? I want to live in a way that is worth remembering. I want to live a life that screams, "This woman knew how she wanted to live, she chose to preserve tradition, and she was stubborn and persistent in making that dream happen. She followed her dreams." I hope someday, when my great-great grandchildren are kneading bread with the same recipe I used, when they are using the recipes that I wrote, and when they gaze into my eyes through photographs, that they think about me and smile and are as proud of my homestead journey. as I am of my own ancestors. Through this homesteading journey, the same that others have made before me, we all will live on.
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