Gard, Robert Edward / My land, my home, my Wisconsin : the epic story of the Wisconsin farm and farm family from settlement days to the present
Wisconsin is a kaleidoscope of change -- the land transformed. . . , pp. 83-96 PDF (8.8 MB)
There is still pride in accomplishments. cattle are upon the hillside. I know that once a family of seven arrived on that flat by the creek, and built a cabin and broke sod for a crop of Indian corn. Now the hillside herd is large; great black and white Holsteins with swell- ing udders. On that hillside there was once only one beast: a thin, brindle cow newly dried of milk. When you envision the people coming from Eu- rope and from New York State and New England and Virginia and Ohio, and you stop a minute to remember what they went through, how they wor- ried through the wheat-growing era, and got dairy- ing started, and raised hops, and improved the cattle and horses and sheep and hogs ... all of that, strug- gling all that time. And they learned about better seed and more economical ways to farm, then strug- gled through World War I and the Depression and finally achieved the success story, where you can be successful on the farm if you follow the right pre- scriptions and have the right machines and cattle.... It isn't hard to identify the struggle, the clearing and breaking of the land, but are the people still there? The struggling people, the family people, the ones who created our state and national strength and traditions. Are they, or the spirit of them, still there? They do live on, for the spirit of Wisconsin grew out of experiences of the early families their descendants who found their strength in land. Generation after generation, leadership in community and the state has come straight from family, the home, the values of home. Farm homes were gathering places. New meef ods developed at the university were synthesized az exchanged there when, from time to time, the E4 tension people would drop in ... Soy Bean Brigs Jim Lacy, Ranger Mac, Tom Bewick, Verne Varnej Warren Clark, Henry Ahlgren, Rudolph Froke Dave Williams, Bruce Cartter, Nellie Kedzie Jone Abby Marlatt, Almere Scott, Edith Bangham, L. Sorden, Walter Bean, Ray Penn .... Many othi of the great ones who took a personal interest in tl farm people would just drop by the home place see how things were going. That was the way it done; the whole thing evolved in one crucible ... perts, farmers, all devoted to the same end: the be terment of a condition, of the land, of personal lif Community problems, farm problems, and comma nity culture were what concerned them. When meetings were held in the schoolhouse the town hall, folks came from all over the coun side to discuss matters important to the farmer, to the farmer's wife, or to his kids. Sometimes thi concerns were expressed in the form of plays, usui ly obtained from the university, that told about ti problems of the dairyman producing milk and chee or about a farmer raising chickens or geese or m keting produce, or about the farm wife saving her egg money to buy a piano or organ. The plays were done with lots of humorl fast action. Sometimes "Old Brindley," the all-pu pose cow, was portrayed onstage by boisterous fan ers covered with a large cloth and holding a paint cow's head. The plays were entertainment and moz They furnished a good reason for the busy farme and their families to get together. The men wov come in the evening to build a stage in the school in the hall or outside. To some it was a great hon just to pull the stage curtain, to make the siml scenery, or to put up the lights-often just bulbs tin cans, if there was nothing better. It was all of the rural community spirit. In the background of the entire rural Wisc sin way of life was what had happened. To und stand the Wisconsin of today, one must appreci the courage, determination, humor, and awaren of home and home place that accompanied the tra formation of the land. In working on this book, we talked to farm people who helped shape this agricultural s ting. All of them found it necessary to speak of t 84
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