BLUE RIVER - March can be an interesting month as we hope for, but not always receive, spring-like days. This March started fairly well. As predicted, Mother Nature seemed to be traveling her usual routes. Several local people told me they have seen or heard sandhill cranes, numerous geese have arrived, the Blue River swans were sitting on ice and robins have been seen on several lawns.
It won’t be long until the first flowers of spring will be coming through the ground. Some folks say potatoes can be planted in March.
My first introduction to farm work came many years ago, on March 1, as I helped my brother sow his first crop as he began his life-long goal of becoming a farmer. We spent an afternoon sewing oats, as snow was falling. We used a horse-drawn wagon, equipped with an endgate seeder, pulled by his pride and joy, Barney and Daise, a pair of big sorrel horses that would become part of the family.
I don’t recall the status of the oats yield, but I remember being back in that field in August, with big brother on the seat of an old binder that had once been horse-drawn. I was on the seat of an F-12 Farmall tractor.
At that time, March 1st was an important day, perhaps sad – or maybe hopeful. It was moving day on the farms. In those days farms were often small operations with just a quarter of a section of rented share-cropped land and folks moved around a lot.
My dad was a rural mail carrier and he did not look forward to March 1 with glee. He knew the narrow clay roads would be busy with families on the move. If there had been a wet February the movers would have turned the rail-route roads into a spongy mess. Graveled roads were rare – hard-surface roads were reserved for state or federal highways only.
Moving from farm-to-farm was a big deal. Not only was farm machinery on the move – so were animals – in trucks or walking in herds. Household furniture also was moved, some making the journey to a new location in an open hayrack. Often a heavy iron kitchen range and a big heating stove had to be moved, both having long stovepipes to connect them to the house chimney.
Experienced movers kept the beds and bedding easily available because – knowing they were going to be needed at the end of a long day.
Those mass moving days are a thing of the past. Changes on the farms took care of that. Now, in the area where Vi’s family farmed, many of the houses and barns, even the trees are gone. There are no longer kids picking an apple off a tree to add to their school lunch pail. Large grain bins have taken the place of corn cribs. Even fences have disappeared.But the roads are much better and quieter on March 1.