Farmer's Diary: Christmas 2006
Having spent my entire life on a farm, Christmas has always been a pleasant waypoint of the year. The seemingly endless days of irrigation, cultivation and harvest give way to a less hectic schedule of the short winter days. Even when we fed pens of cattle, the work was less intense than the summer schedule.
This morning as I am writing my last edition of Farmer's Diary, Christmas music fills our house. The old wood stove is turned up and ice coats the sidewalks and barren fields. The smells of baking still permeate our house after a "Chocolate Saturday." Carol and our daughters Jill, Becky and Katie spent the day making all description of Christmas goodies. I think they cleaned out the entire local inventories of chocolate chips!
Having finished (finally!) the outdoor decorations, this Sunday will be a day to enjoy being with my family. In a few hours we will take my mother, Lucille Butler, with us to the Golden Gate Baptist church in Wilder. This church has stood as a landmark of the Wilder community since the early 1900s. My parents first attended services when they arrived in Idaho in the late 1930s. Carol and I were married in this church in 1974 and while we no longer attend regular services there, coming back is like returning to my roots. Opal Jesse, Elvin Suter and Rachael Hull were just some of the great people who influenced my young life with the stories and teachings they shared in Sunday School classes. I can still see Willard Mills putting his all in pulling the rope to peal the steeple bell and hand out sacks of candy after the Christmas program. While they are no longer with us, the memory and influence of their service will continue in the lives of those who were honored to know them.
Here at Sunrise Acres, this month is a time to "do the books" and decide what will be produced on the farm next year. Now that the farm is no longer the main source of our income, crop decisions are based more on what can be raised with as little labor as possible. Hay and grain take very little hand labor and, compared to other crops, less precise irrigation. The harvest is completely mechanized and there is usually someone willing to do the windrowing, baling, stacking and combining required. We are considering a crop of corn in two of our fields next year. While the corn prices are certainly more attractive than in the past, my motive is a bit different. I simply miss having a place to hunt pheasants and ducks! With our close proximity to the Snake River, I am hoping next fall will bring more hunting opportunities. There seem to be fewer places to hunt each year.
The reality is that the beautiful area of the Treasure Valley we live in is rapidly being transformed into houses. With this pressure mounting, Carol and I feel like the fields we work now may become just another subdivision in the next 10 years. With this in mind, each hearing and approval brings that day ever closer. While we have resisted development in our Fargo community, the numbers of housing developments already approved will soon bring more people into this area than the roads will safely handle. Walking and bike rides are a completely different experience than they once were. We can't blame people for wanting to share our valley, it's just getting a bit crowded for our tastes! We were fortunate that while our children were little, the traffic was much lighter.