Current weather conditions

Click for Dexter, Iowa Forecast

Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



Thousands of years ago this land that we called home was covered in tall grass prairie. Over the ensuing years as day turned into night and the seasons rolled through their never ending series those tall grasses died and became rich black soil that made this land, Iowa, the most fertile and rich farming land in the entire planet. And upon this dirt, this simple soil that came from thousands of years of living and dying, farmers turned the soil, planted their crops and raised generations of families while feeding the world at the same time.

My earliest ancestors to this nation fled the persecution of the German government and the Roman Catholic Church and with other Quakers found a new start in the Carolina’s. Later members of the family migrated to the rich valleys and open lands of Indiana and still others made their way to eastern Iowa, living on the edge of the wilderness between white settlers and Indian lands, at that time the edge of western migration as we knew it. It was a young stage coach driver that met the daughter of a wealthy English land owner south of Stuart that started my family in this area and although raised in the Quaker religion that young couple began four generations of Methodists.

It was here that my story began. A young high school couple in love, he the goofy, sporty guy with ADHD, which at that time was thought of just as laziness, and she the consummate homemaker who raised brothers before raising her old children. It was because of the soil here that the family farmed, raised cattle and children and became members of the community. The soil gave them life and in return they tended it, protected its resources and worked hard to make a living the best they could.

The years rolled by quickly and as generations passed and farmers faced pressure from the economy, government and bankers, most of it out of their control and much of it forced upon them by being fed bad information and advice, my family left the farm. In reality though, the farm left us as we watched it go piece by piece. The tractor I learned to drive as a kid, the gas barrels that hid wasp’s nests in the stands, the barn where so many 4-H and FFA projects were raised and many conversations between a father and son occurred out of earshot of Mom. We struggled with the lost and watched as new owners took the land and farmed it as their own.

It was a hard time, but as farm kids we were used to hard times, and the stories of birth and life and death as we lived it in real time every day of the year. We thrilled with the new calves and baby lambs that jumped and frolicked in the new short grass of spring, and giggled loudly while holding fuzzy yellow baby chicks in our hands. We fed and tended and cared for those same animals and later we thought little of their death when many made their way to our dinner tables. It was that lesson of farming that brought everything full circle for me in those early years.

Today the farm isn’t the same although, to this day I can tell you every watering hole, crick and coyote den on the place. I show you the spot where I had my first kiss, where my brothers hid in the bushes when I brought a girl home to meet my mother for the first time, and where we buried many of the pets that grew up on the place. Life continues in that cycle of birth, life and death even as the days roll into seasons and the seasons roll into years.

This week, I stood next to an open plot of dirt and ran my fingers across it. The last piece of land my Dad will own, not to farm but in years to return someday to prairie grass. On what would have been his 63rd birthday I look back at his life and thank him for not running from the responsibility of the family farm even though he had good reason too. And for giving me the opportunity to grow up in a place, on a piece of land formed through generations of birth and life and death where the lessons of the same were able to be learned in real time.

See you next week…Remember, we’re all in this together.