Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Rowan Homestead

... or, How My Life Changed in Mabie, WV.

I have really strong feelings regarding our visit to Dellis Rowan's farm. In his 70s, he still keeps two draft horses, Dick and Dan, and they work for their keep! Dellis and his horses mow the hay that feeds them, and he puts it all up in his barn. Alone, from what I could tell. Here is a man with an incredible life story.

There's just too much to say. We all know of my childhood obsession with and passion for horses, my growing [pun not intended] interest in local agriculture, the family business that includes the Michigan Farm Trader. Dellis and his way of life really called to me that day. I want to learn how to plow, how to mow, how to harvest, how to build a barn and shoe my own horses. Even taking his age into account, he was probably the most physically fit person standing out in the field that day.

He spoke, wracked with emotion, of his sons lack of interest in his lifestyle. Of their decision to find work in the automotive industry, which no doubt ensured them an easier life without the isolation that Dellis and his wife, who live on the same land where he was born, must feel sometimes. Of making his son help build a haystack, so that one day he could tell his children and grandchildren that he had.

What this nation is losing, what the world is losing with the advent of giant conglomerate farms that grow one crop is what we as Americans like to hold near and dear. Independence, self-sufficiency, tradition, the honest work that comes from a day's sweat. That pioneer's spirit.

Our economy is tanking and people are wringing their hands, wondering how they're going to make it. People are complaining that they can't afford fresh fruits and vegetables, that they can't afford to keep their pets anymore, that it just isn't fair. It isn't. But what else can we expect when we base our sense of security on imaginary money and economies half a world away, based on exploitation and politically-minded lies.

There aren't enough ways I can explain what this glimpse into his life meant. Knowing that these traditions and methods are dying out is a sobering jolt back into our modern-day reality from an afternoon that could have taken place 100 years ago.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about Dellis and his way of life since we left. I would like to learn.


an.t. said...

Beautiful photos, Kate...lovely sentiments.

gaz said...

wonderful post yels. there's definitely any element of the younger generation who don't want to undertake anything that's too much like hard work.
that first photo is terrific.

Dedric said...

Moved beyond most words. Except for the ones I'm obviously writing now.

I'm telling you, we'll all form a commune and party our days away in between working for our food and tending to our animals.