Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

Rural living has its rewards

 


When I was a child growing up in Evanston, Illinois, I would dream of living on a farm. It was hard to imagine open fields when Chicago was right next door to the south of us. We did have the big expanse of Lake Michigan to the east, and I spent a lot of time there when I was a child. Still, there were no open fields and fresh mown hay. I have never enjoyed living right next door to close neighbors. First of all, every time I misbehaved one of the neighbors would see it and report to my mother; second of all, there just wasn’t any room for a horse in the back yard.

My grandparents grew up on farms in Europe and had immigrated to the Chicago area around 1912. The house they eventually bought was an old farm house which still had an old cow barn in the backyard. The building was a shed, with three cow bowers in it. On the end of the building was a horse stall. You can just picture how my imagination made up stories about our house.

What drew my grandfather to the property, was that the three story house had a still in the attic and a tippling house in the basement. It was Prohibition and Pa, as my grandfather was called by all of us, did like his illicit booze. Fortunately my grandmother, called Ma, soon realized the truth and cleaned house. The property had a large lot and soon Pa was busy plowing and hoeing the garden plot. We had chickens and one rooster. Nowadays I’m sure Evanston might have variances for hens, but certainly the crow of a rooster is but a memory.

Pa had numerous cousins who had farms out in Skokie and Des Plaines where we would go occasionally to get fresh beef and pork. Since my motivator for visiting farms was the opportunity to see and ride a horse. I always had a good time. Though I often dreamed of housing a horse in the shed stall, it never became a reality. The only horses allowed in Evanston belonged to the junk man who sharpened knives and hauled off junk you no longer wanted. He had a horse drawn wagon and traveled the alleyways of Evanston looking for business. I made up my mind as a child, that someday, somehow, I would find myself living on a farm.

Moving to the Moose Lake area and finding a farm in Kettle River has been a dream realized. I don’t know how people can stand city living. Yes, cities offer plenty of jobs, but once we retired, the open farms and fields held a siren call for Don and I.

I know why we moved out here, but I do wonder why so many other people do the same thing when they retire? I have asked around, and to my surprise there are many reasons why people trade the activity of city life for the rural life. For me, it’s the absolute need to be able to go out into my yard and look up at the night sky. There are billions of stars up there. From the backyard in my city lot, I was lucky I could see the moon. Out here in Automba, I can lean back on the chaise on the deck and watch the stars appear after sunset. I listen to the birds saying goodnight to one another. I can hear the rustle of animals in the windbreak. More than anything else, I feel closer to the earth and to growing plants and trees.

Yesterday, I watched one of our neighbors; Alden Disterhaupt, cut hay in our field. I watched him drive the tractor around and around our field, cutting hay for his beef cattle. The new mown hay filled my nostrils with the clean scent of the fresh cutting. Nowhere does city life offer this kind of joy.

Now, I feel that I have realized the dreams of my childhood; I have traded the city life of Chicago for my rural dreams. My kind of human heaven.

 

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