Ginnie and I recently celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary. On Oct. 10, three years ago, Ginnie stepped out of the back door of our garage, strolled across the grass to the music and singing of “Going to the Chapel” and my life, our lives, changed forever. Who would have thought that at our age — I was 67 at the time, and Ginnie 64 — that we could find peace, happiness and love with each other on the Empty Nest Farm?
Approaching the Empty Nest Farm from either direction on Highway 34, you can see that the maple trees are bent slightly to the north from the hot, southern wind that blows in the summer. The trees remind me of a woman’s hair blowing in the breeze — bent over, eyes closed, hair dryer in hand. I have often wondered why the trees aren’t bent in the opposite direction from the frigid, tear-freezing wind that howls out of the northwest in the winter. Maybe it’s because the summer trees are growing, their branches alive with sap, and their limbs more malleable, like we were on our wedding day.
For my wedding vows, I used the trees as an analogy. “If I am willing to bend, like the trees right here on the farm have bent in the wind, we will survive and thrive.”
One of the first things we did the following summer was have a huge, three-car garage built onto the north side of our house, complete with exercise room, basement, and attic. To celebrate the completion of the addition, we had an open house, inviting friends, family and church members. It was so much fun.
One of my Empty Nest readers from Fairfield, Fiddl’n Granny, showed up with her fiddle. (She likes to fiddle around.) Fiddl’n Granny entertained us with “Chinese Breakdown,” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “Golden Slippers.” 92-year old Wilbur Swindler, from Ottumwa, got to tapping his toe and asking the ladies to dance. Wilbur is now deceased. However, knowing Wilbur, his toe is tapping still.
One morning the following spring, Ginnie hit a deer on her way to work. That afternoon, as she arrived home with her smashed-in, hair covered front-grill, a hailstorm swept through and did major damage to our house and new addition. You might say it was a traumatic day. However, our insurance company was Johnny-on-the-spot, taking care of both the auto and house. We even had the asphalt shingles replaced with blue steel. Our loving home now looks even more inviting.
What is a farm without animals? Of course we had Buddy, but that first spring, I picked up baby chicks from the farm store, converted a shed into a hen house, and we now have a hen-and-egg operation. Ginnie, being a city girl, was rather skeptical, but she adapted fast. Visitors to our Empty Nest Farm usually leave with a dozen farm fresh brown eggs — what we call “a gift of love.”
Then there arrived Blossom, the Black Angus heifer, born on April Fools’ Day. She’s growing fast and we can’t decide if we’re going to butcher her or have her bred to raise a calf year-after-year. We’ve been told that the mistake was in naming her.
Every farm needs a barn cat. The latest addition is Barney the barn cat. He showed up one morning while I was doing chores. He was hungry. I cracked an egg for him and he decided real fast that he had found a home. Barn mice beware.
I then watched in wonder as Barney took down and ate a nearly full size cottontail. Yes, we have survived and thrived on the Empty Nest Farm.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook.