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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Memories of a Farmer Dad-Guest Post

I am blessed in my life to have friends and neighbors that are supportive of agriculture even though they no longer are directly tied to a farm.  This week's guest post is brought to you by the father of one of my best friends.  In fact, Larry Lankard's daughter was the one person that really pushed me to join Facebook a few years back to let people know how hard farmers work to produce food for your families.  Thank you Larry and Jodi for being so supportive!  

As you look through these pictures, it is sad to know that Larry's father passed away in 1994 of cancer.  The family farm has since been sold and was recently bulldozed.  The farmstead you see is gone...buried in the pond. 

Sit back and enjoy Larry's thoughts after the Dodge Super Bowl ad aired about his father and then you might enjoy another guest post about hiring Just a Farm Kid.-KFM                                                                   

                                                       Dedicated to my Dad- A Farmer
by Larry Lankard
Lankard Family Farm early 1980's

It was a sleepless Sunday night, my mind restless, till early Monday morn.
T’was not the outcome of the Super Bowl, which left the Raven fans elated and the 49’s fans forlorn.

 It was a simple slide show ad, tractors and family, livestock and the land.
“So God Made a Farmer”, the voice of Paul Harvey, weathered faces and calloused hands.

This was the reason, a slide show of memories, replaying over and over in my mind.
Memories of a special man, stout as an oak, stern yet tender, a smile so warm and kind.
1973 Crossbred Herd
A better father, mentor, example of a man, couldn’t be had.
On the eighth day, a caretaker was needed so God made a Farmer, my Dad!

Planting and harvesting, birthing and weaning, and all chores in between.
Hauling hay, cutting firewood, side by side we toiled, sweating and freezing.

Always working to the absolute last minute, a quick shower and change, then out the door.
Family functions, sporting events, visiting with neighbors, nothing Dad enjoyed more.
1981 Keith & Loretta Lankard Family

Memories of the neighbors, to the east-grandparents Walt and Edna, to the west-Aunt Gladys and Uncle Sandy.
In between were the Valentines, Bentons, Peines, Porters, Carters and MacArthurs, and all the families Good- Eldon, Jim and Louie.

These were farm families of different backgrounds, beliefs, but all molded by the same hand,
Strong, common folk, connected by the same bond - the land.

Memories of St. Patricks, a country church on Emerald Hill, the highest point to the west.
Every Saturday evening or Sunday morning, worshiping and visiting, always praying for the best.

More sturdy country folk, mostly of Irish descent, their heritage was their pillar.
I remember the families – Collins, McDonalds, McEvoy, McGrath, Mulcahy, the Hogans, Hirts, Hermrecks and Wilpers.

Standing outside after Mass, all the while looking to the east, enjoying a stunning view of the land.
Dad and the neighbors, visiting for hours, as only farmers can!

Should have been a simple life, internet, Facebook, cell phones weren’t invented yet, so you say,
No, but  droughts , floods, blizzards, all the challenges of nature,  came into play.
1969 Dad's Pride and Joy!  Registered Polled Herefords
Cattle getting out, seed not sprouting, downpours at planting and harvest, washout crossings at the slough,
Cows (and calves) dying at birth, calves  falling in the creek, crop failures, damaging storms, the banker wanting his due.

Equipment breakdowns, repair bills mounting, markets all a flounder.
Challenges that would take down lesser men, not my Dad – a Farmer!
This 30,000 bushel grain facility was built in 1973.

End of the year, hours spent poring over the records, evaluating and forming next year’s plan,
The beginning of the year, with the bankers blessing, full of optimism that we will and we can!

Wasn’t always struggles and hardships, God’s beauties were to behold, all the marvels of nature,
Kansas sunrises and sunsets, experienced from the seat of a tractor, none the better.

1975 Wheat Harvest
Ten foot tall corn, amber fields of wheat, soybeans up to your chest,
Bin busting yields, barn lots full of bawling-freshly weaned calves, those years were the best!

Barns full of sweet smelling hay, cows under the shade tree, contently chewing their cud.
Evening thunderstorms, crystal clear dawns, walking barefoot in the mud.

Fun Times! Oh – the memories, fishing from the ponds and creek. Sunday night hot dog roasts.
4-H, Vo. Ag., FFA, the County Fair, Dad found time for all these, of which I can boast!
1977 National FFA Convention:  Larry's brother Kenneth received his American FFA Degree and Larry was serving as Kansas State FFA Treasurer
Football, basketball and track, sports I could participate in, only during the school year.
Weekends and summers – work to be done, I didn’t question, “ I need you here.”

Dads hands-grease stained and calloused- gentle, while holding a baby calf, kitten or Grandchildren.
His hands weathered and beaten, hard as iron on my backside, while disciplining.
1973 Spraying and tillage in one pass setup

Hands patting my shoulder, encouraging and praising, for a days work or award won.
Hands that molded my work ethic, teaching commitment, traits he said to pass on to your son.

So you see, the reason for my sleepless night, memories of a long ago time,
Yet so fresh in my mind, a childhood on the farm,  then putting all this to rhyme.
1975 Dad sold registered Polled Herefords
Thank you Chrysler, Paul Harvey,  admix all the Super Bowl anomalies,
For reminding me, and our nation, of the sacrifices made by these men and their families.

Sacrifices made to settle this nation, to feed our people, I’m so proud of my Mom and Dad!
For accepting the torch, running the race, working all the hours -  caring for the land.
June 1974 Cultivating Soybeans
I hope and pray, as a nation, we will never forget these words of a gravely voiced broadcaster,
“On the eighth day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, I need a caretaker.” So God Made a Farmer!”
By Larry Lankard
A tribute to the farmer and his father, Keith Lankard, who farmed west of Garnett, Kansas.

A Kansas Farm Mom thanks you Larry Lankard for sharing your family's story and reminded me of memories I had long forgotten about growing up in a different community and a different decade.  

As I was working with Larry to compile these photos, I was amazed at the accomplishments that he had as an FFA student.  He was the FFA member I tried to be:  A State FFA Officer, Winner of the National Livestock Judging Contest, Winner of the National Land Judging Contest with a perfect score and featured in the National Future Farmer Magazine. I am humbled to call Larry Lankard a friend.

-A Kansas Farm Mom