Legacy

My father’s had a number of offers on his land. Some of them, he says, have been made by folks with pretty deep pockets.

My father is in his early sixties. He’s talked about retirement on and off for a couple of years.

Once, when I asked my mother why Da didn’t just quit farming and come home to teach, she sighed and said, “because there’s something about the land that won’t let him go. And he *can’t* let it go.”

So it’s a strange thing to be thinking about; this farm, this land that I resented and hated for years, this land that I later realise I love, that I can’t get out of my own thoughts, this land might not be his anymore.

I harboured dreams of farming it for a while, but the reality is that I’m not going to manage two sections on my own. My boys would like to try it, or so they say now, but in 15 years, who knows?

My mind goes back, time and time again, to the romantic memories – the boys, driving on the same tractors I drove on with my Gramps, with my Da. Last year, I took The Captain down to the spot I used to spend the sweltering evenings, with the smell of clover and the rustling of barley heads all around. I knew he’d probably never have the same attachment to it that I do, and I certainly don’t have the same attachment to it my father does, but I think I understand.

He has given everything to his farm; his youth, his family, his career, his pain, his lonliness and his fear.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I know it’s breaking my heart.

This crappy picture is from Grande Moote III, a werewolf game played on my father’s farm:

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

7 Comments

  1. He’s thinking of selling? No!!!!!
    If is can be rented, do that. You’ll get way more in rent than you will interest on the sale price.

  2. I think if he leaves, he has to “just leave”. I don’t think he could rent it and know his land was still out there, belonging to him, but being worked by someone else.

    He *has* leased it, in recent years, particularly when Mum was sick. I know he’s thought of this, but he’s a Worrier, and as a Worrier, he’d be Worried that “they” would be doing it wrong.

    It’s not about money, anyway. It’s about something deeper. If it was just about money, he’d already have sold it to the highest bidder.

  3. Wow. That is sad. It is too bad it can’t stay in the family. I even have my own memory out there. Those are healing fields and I can see why your family is so attached.

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  5. Well, no decision has been made yet, so worrying that it won’t stay in the family is a bit premature. For all I know, he might decide to do something entirely different (which he’s talked about, and which I don’t feel at all comfortable discussing in public).

  6. Look at it this way (too): he’s had something in his life to which he’s been moved to give everything. That isn’t as common as you might think. It deepens a person’s life to do that, in ways that aren’t always obvious. And the time may come when to hang on to something like that is so hard on you that it diminishes rather than maintains and enhances the positive effect. Better to leave when so many of the memories — of the land, of him on the land — are good, rather than having “here’s where I had my heart attack, here’s where I permanently screwed up my back, here’s the thing I blew half my retirement savings on for nothing” in the landscape as well. Just sayin. The land isn’t going anywhere, regardless of the decision. The memories aren’t going anywhere either. But time is never going to stand still, or leave any of us behind.

  7. We have the same thoughts over here. My dad’s semi-retired (drives a school bus part-time now) and hasn’t farmed for oh, five years maybe?

    Our land is rented but it’s to family friends (which can be its own set of problems – I know the odd rent cheque comes late and re-negotiating the lease is always a bit awkward) so he likes that arrangement for the most part. He also gets the calls on a regular basis from all kinds of deep-pocketed folks (we’re on the edge of the Qu’Appelle Valley so quite a few developers, not just other farmers or city folk looking for a way to “get back to nature”.)

    But I don’t think he’d ever sell – that land not only defines his life but it’s been in our family since 1883 so there’s a bigger pull than just one man, one family.

    Of course, this gives me my own issues since it’s been clear since I drove a swather into a telephone pole in my early teens that I’d probably never take over the farm!

    Dad’s good with that and very understanding which makes it easier. But I don’t think he’d ever want me to sell it either. As you say, maybe when we’re one more generation removed that might happen. Dad often talks about how it will be a great opportunity for my son someday – whether he wants to sell it or develop it.

    The funny thing is, though I don’t think I’d ever farm it, I’d really love to build a little shack and live out there – even half the year – since so many of my best memories of childhood are at that farm.

    And if I give my son those memories too…who knows?

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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