Saturday, August 20, 2011

Slides: The Family Farm

Spring or Summer 1953: The Reynolds farmhouse on
the Reynolds Family Farm on Reynolds Road.

I have mentioned a few times that my husband grew up on a farm in Upstate New York.  One of the best things about going through these old slides was getting to see the farm and the beautiful country where Ed was born and raised.

January 1952: The Reynolds Family Farm in winter time.

The farm was first settled around 1870 by Ed's great-great-grandfather.  He began by building a "sugar house" where he could process the sap from his maple trees into maple syrup.  From those humble beginnings, the farm grew bit by bit, with each generation contributing new buildings.  Ed tells me that ancient sugar house was no longer usable by the time he came along in 1960, due to it's great age and deterioration.

Spring 1964: A crabapple tree on the Reynolds Family Farm.

Spring or Summer 1953: Looking down Reynolds Road toward the farmhouse.

Spring or Summer 1953: View of the Reynolds Family Farm from the top of the hill.

Autumn 1955: This slide was labeled affectionately "Our Valley."

Autumn 1955: Colorful trees on the Reynolds Farm.
I wonder if that small building near the treeline is the original 1870s sugar house.

This picture was probably taken in 1967 or 1968, based on the make years of the vehicles and the people in the photo.  Ed had me label this one "Reynolds' 40-cow dairy farm."  I presume that's the milking barn, but I'm pretty sure that is not the house Ed grew up in. 

There was another house on the property "down the road" where Ed's parents lived when they were first married, while Ed's grandparents and their two daughters (Ed's aunts Edith and Lucy) were still living in the main farmhouse.  Ed has also mentioned a "tenant house" on the farm where the hired hands sometimes lived.  I'm not sure if the two houses are one in the same, or if the house in the above photo is one of them.  I'll need to get clarification from Ed when he gets home from Colorado!

Autumn 1959:  This slide was a real find!
It's an aerial shot of the Reynolds Family Farm.

Ed grew up in the same house his dad grew up in. My husband would probably still be farming the land there if circumstances had been different. However, as years went on, the nearby small town of Franklinville began to grow, expanding into the surrounding farmland. Farmers began selling off their land to developers. Eventually, Ed's dad was not able to lease the extra land he needed to farm or for his milk cows to graze in order to make the family farm be profitable.

Spring 1954: Franklinville Central Elementary School.
I think Ed must have attended school here (starting in 1965)
since Franklinville was the nearest town.  I'll have to check on that.

Ed's dad had purchased the farm from his father, who continued to live with their family and help work the farm for many years. By the 1970s, though, Ed's dad saw the handwriting on the wall. He began looking for other opportunities to support his family. In the early 1970s he sold the farm that had been in his family for 100 years. The family moved to Franklinville and later, in 1974, to North Java, New York. I believe Ed's dad owned and operated a gas station for a short time during this period, among other projects.  I think Ed told me the gas station mysteriously burned to the ground about a year after they bought it.

July 1974: The family's newly-built home in North Java, New York.

In June 1977, when Ed was still 16, the family left New York altogether and relocated to Fort Collins, Colorado, where Ed's dad had already begun working for Colorado State University. Ed's parents remained in Colorado until his dad's death in November 2009 and his mom's relocation to Arizona in June of this year.

July 1974: View of a lake from the front of the North Java house.

As a city-slicker, born and raised in California for the first 25 years of my life, this glimpse into my husband's early farm-life years on the other side of the continent is fascinating to me.  Besides that, I'm just a sap when it comes to family history.

Don't you love the idea of a simpler life, surrounded by nature and living off the land?  I'm sure it's not as picture-perfect as we imagine, but I do believe we miss a lot in the hustle-bustle of today's world.  That's why I love living in my little rural mountain town today!

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