What’s old is new again on the farm


I find it amazing, time and time again, how much the world is turning back around to the way it used to be long, long ago.
My great-grandfather Charlie was, as it turns out, a man ahead of his time. He didn’t want to give up his windmill-powered house and barn when electric lines came through. He felt certain he could continue powering everything his humble farm needed with “free wind” instead of paying for electric power.
Grandpa Charlie also held on to his horses, saying he had trained them to do exactly what needed to be done on his farm.
“Who needs a tractor that is going to act up and break down and cost you money?” was his reasoning.
There were a few times Charlie had to eat his words. One story, in particular, always makes me grin.
Fond story. Grandpa Charlie loved his old radio shows, and Lum and Abner never failed to give him a good belly laugh for the day. Sometimes, the story line became so complicated that a fellow didn’t dare miss a single word.
Well, one day, Charlie was forced to hitch up his horses and head to the neighbor’s farm.
“John, I have to know how today’s Lum and Abner ended up,” Grandpa Charlie asked sheepishly. Neighbor John likely ribbed Charlie for a little bit, because Charlie had certainly dished it out himself many, many times.
That precious wind-generated battery had faded away just when Charlie needed it to work the most. Lum had found himself in a pickle, and Abner was just about to do something big. Grandpa Charlie simply HAD to know what that was!
Eventually, Grandpa Charlie did bend to the ways of the world, and an electric line was run to his house. He continued to live in a very conservative world, though, and he continued to love his work horses right up to the bitter end.
By the time I came into the world, Grandpa Charlie was a widower and retired farmer, having held an estate sale, then moving into a small place behind his daughter’s home in the tiny town of Hayesville.
Opportunity knocks. Grandpa Charlie helped us out on our farm, and he would often joke with my dad, his grandson, about the lack of horses on the farm. If a tractor ever acted up and needed mechanical attention, it was a sure opening for Grandpa Charlie to talk about the great horses of his heyday.
“With a ‘gee’ and a ‘haw’, you could make those horses do ANYTHING,” he said over and over again.
When farmers talked about buying large chunks of additional ground, Grandpa Charlie would just shake his head. For one thing, he refused to carry ny debt. He felt staying small and farming conservatively, making every inch of ground count, could serve a family just as well.
This is exactly what farmer and writer Gene Logsdon points out over and over in his writing. What interests me about the current trends in the world today is that many people are looking to all sorts of alternate sources of energy, including those who have managed to successfully harness wind power to run small, productive farms.
Grandpa Charlie certainly must be smiling from ear to ear.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.