By Sherry Harris
From the suburbs of Washington, DC
To celebrate the release of A Tine to Live a Tine to Die, Edith Maxwell‘s organic farm based series, I talk about my grandparent’s farm in Novinger, Missouri.
According to our family history in 1847 Isaac Novinger “saw that he would never be able to secure a home for himself and his family in the land of his fathers (Dauphin County, PA) and so he looked toward the setting sun and discovered in North Missouri a land like the garden of the Lord.”
Even though I’m from Iowa, I’m not a farm girl. But there were things I loved about visiting my grandparent’s farm. My grandfather had a large apple orchard and the trees were easy to climb. From early on my grandfather grafted branches from one tree to another to develop new varieties of apples.
Tractor rides were another favorite. Grandpa would attach a rickety platform to the back of the tractor for my sister and me to ride on. The rides were always a thrill, not only was Grandpa blind in one eye, but he looked back at us most of the time. A crash always seemed imminent and a last minute swerve always saved us.
My parents called the woods on the farm The Friendly Woods. It was full of wild flowers, arrowheads, fossils, a creek and even an abandon coal mine. We weren’t allowed to go in but could sit in the old coal wagon, still on rusty tracks.
I remember helping pick strawberries from their garden one very hot, humid summer day. Bending over, standing up, sticky and dizzy. To this day when I see You-Pick-It places I think, no thanks!
At night it was so quiet you could hear birds twitching in trees. I’d be wide awake sure an escaped prisoner was going to find and murder us in our beds. Mind you my grandparent’s farm was so remote it was only accessible by dirt roads and there wasn’t even a jail in a fifteen mile radius. A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die is set on another idyllic farm but on this farm, my childhood fears come alive.