Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

My husband's update...

He took the high road. He quietly set things to right without confronting his co-worker, although he did let his immediate supervisor (not the owner of the company) know about the situation.

Tomorrow night, he has a job interview. It would be a good job for him in some ways, and he is well-qualified. I hope he gets it. Just to be able to get out of the situation he's in now, where he's not respected, not adequately compensated for the work he does, etc.

Farm update...

My father-in-law got about 85 bushels to the acre in corn. Not too bad, considering he doesn't irrigate and it's a drought year. He usually averages around 110, so that's only a 23% difference. It could have been a lot worse.

Unfortunately, the bank is foreclosing on the farm immediately to the north of my father-in-law's. This was the original parcel that Great-Great-Grandpa Andrew got when the Civil War ended and he got a land contract from the USA. This is the Andrew that grew the operation into the largest farm in the county. Even the creek that winds through many of the farms in the area is named after him.

When he died, he divided his farm among his children. My father-in-law works land that was left to Andrew's daughter Clara and her husband Charlie. They had two children, Daisy and another Andrew, and the farm was divided in half for each of those kids. Daisy sold her share off in bits and pieces to support herself as she grew older, but the second Andrew -- my husband's grandfather -- kept his part and that's what my father-in-law and his siblings inherited. My father-in-law owns the acreage that includes the farm house Charlie built, the barn and various other outbuildings. The other siblings own the rest in kind, but it's all farmed together.

My father-in-law's second cousin and her husband run the farm to the north, which she inherited much like my father-in-law inherited his portion of Great-Great-Grandpa Andrew's original holdings. But they haven't managed it well. They declared bankruptcy in 1998, and there's been nothing but drought since. So now the foreclosure.

Not only is Andrew's original parcel, it also is the site of the duggout he built when he first claimed the land. Yes, he actually lived in a man-made cave, neatly whitewashed, along the shores of the creek. Just like in Little House on the Prairie and Giants in the Earth.

The duggout collapsed many years ago, but you can still see the site. And above it, on the ridge, is the family cemetary. This is where Andrew, all his children and most if not all of his grandchildren are buried. The graves of my husband's grandparents and aunt Clara Beth and great-aunt Daisy are there. And I know my father-in-law always intended to be buried there, too.

We don't know yet if the family cemetary will be part of the sale of the whole farm or not. My father-in-law and his siblings, even pooling together, could not come up with the price the whole land promises to fetch. It could be $300,000, my father-in-law says. If there is an opportunity to buy just that little bit of land where the cemetary is -- an acre, I think -- they might try to do it. And it's possible that portion was never intended to be part of the sale. We'll just have to see.

Farm foreclosures are so hard, especially when the land has been in your family for over 100 years. You lose not only the land, but the house, the barn, all the equipment. Sometimes, depending on how the mortgage was written, folks lose their furniture and other memorabilia. They might only be allowed to take their personal clothing and sundries.

That's what happened when my grandmother's brother lost the family farm. She had to bid against antique store dealers and other folks to get a dining room chair her grandfather had made by hand. And when somebody outbid her on the oval framed photos of herself and her brother Charles, who was killed in WWI, she had cried and begged the woman to just let her purchase the photos themselves -- Grandma didn't want the frames and concave glass, just the pictures.

I have them now. I want to get the one of my grandmother framed. She's a baby, maybe 10 months old, and three or four kittens are playing in her lap. She has the biggest smile on her face. Someday, I'll scrape together the money to get an oval frame and flat glass for it. Someday.

Anyway, I hope Randy and Marilyn aren't going to go through the same loss when the foreclosure auction is held. I hope they'll be allowed to keep their family photos and some furniture and dishes, pots and pans, towels and sheets, and other practicalities. It's hard enough to start over in your late 50s or early 60s without having to start completely from scratch.



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