I am about to take a journey and I am inviting you to go with me.
At the outset may I state that I am not a farmer, have never been a farmer and do not play one on TV.
However, I have been intrigued by farms and what goes on since I was knee high to a grasshopper.
I know that a farmer gathers eggs, milks cows, feeds pigs and plows corn. They perform these, among other activities, to provide us the food we eat and a lot more. I know that the giant supermarket or the bodega is not the source of supplying all our human needs.
As a part of the research for this series I have visited the Lebanon Public Library, looked at county plot maps, county road maps, driven on a lot of county roads, read census reports and directories and I have interviewed people by the score. They all had one thing in common — Boone County. I must say that I have leaned on the expertise provided by The Boone County Historian, Eric Spall, Local history Librarian in the Lebanon Library Heritage Room.
At this point I must confess I have followed a plow or two, and I have bounced across a few fields on the seat of what would now qualify as an antique tractor. I have experienced the popcorn fields of Iowa, beans and corn In South Dakota and spent a bit of time on a dairy operation in Colorado. Oh, and, I plant a garden every year that it is not a bog.
I say all this because you might expect that a “city” boy would be devoid of any farm knowledge. Well, I have not always been tied to the city. Some of the love of the soil is genetic. I tried to pick cotton in North Carolina….. (not very well), but then I was only 6 years old. One uncle was a farmer and one grandfather was a horse trader/rancher and my mother grew up as a rancher’s daughter.
Suffice it to say, my jaw almost dropped to the ground when I was told that now a farmer can plant crops with precision due to satellite GPS guided operation. I was told that a seed can be placed with ½” precision and year to year the same location can be accessed to within 1“. A field can be planted with the rows so precise, that five years later the same field can be planted with the rows within 1” of where a similar crop was planted earlier.
The question is how did we get there? That is the journey that I hope you will take with me.
In the early 1820s Indiana was a new state, Boone County was not organized and much of the land was a swamp.
I guess we have to start somewhere. Pull on your waders and follow me.