Farm livin’

Liam in the Vineyard

Our youngest grandson came for his first big boy (no parents) visit recently. We spent plenty of time at the park on Sonoma’s square, but he spent most of his time roaming our little “farm.” Seeing him wandering our property made me think about why we enjoy sharing these experiences with the kids in our life.

Neither of us grew up on farms, but we spent plenty of time on them.

Patrick spent weeks every summer on his grandparents’ cattle ranches in Missouri and California throughout his childhood. His Grandpa Smith bought day-old Holstein bull calves every day for his feed lot business. One summer, Grandpa Smith put Patrick in charge. Seeing an opportunity to take advantage of a young 14 year-old’s naiveté, the calf-sellers tried to sell Patrick the least desirable stock. Patrick refused to buy animals he didn’t want. Perturbed that they had to submit to a young kid’s criteria, the calf-sellers took it up with Grandpa Smith, who shot back that he had put Patrick in charge, and his grandson’s decisions were final. For a young boy to be trusted with that level of responsibility, and to be given that sort of support by an older, wiser man he admired and adored so much was a lifelong lesson.

Patrick’s Dad, Dale Jr. and his Grandpa, Dale Sr., on their feedlot in Colton, California.

My Mom grew up on a series of farms around London, Ohio that her family worked and lived on. Her Dad bought his own farm when my Mom was in her teens, which he eventually lost. My Mom’s family had a hard life and they grew up with next to nothing, but her happy memories of those times include the thrill of riding their plow horses bareback alongside the railroad tracks, waving at the conductor as the trains whisked by.

Four of my Mom's six siblings on work horses, Tom and Mike

Four of my Mom’s six siblings on work horses, Tom and Mike

I got my first horse as a freshman in high school and worked at the barn to pay off my board. I also worked at Blaney Farms, a giant seed corn company outside of Madison, detasseling corn every summer to make extra money. I postponed college for a few years while I worked at stables in Iowa and Minnesota. A typical day included turning the horses out, cleaning and bedding stalls, spreading manure, feeding, riding four to six horses, bringing the horses in, cleaning the barn, and polishing tack. It was hard work, but those years were among the most formative experiences I’ve ever had. (The photo below is of me in the cab of the tractor pulling the manure spreader. That funky makeshift “cab” over the tractor offered lifesaving protection from the Minnesota winter wind and pelting spring rain. And, while it looks like it was taken sometime before the Civil War, this photo was in the Spring of 1977 in Hugo, Minnesota.)

Spreading manure.

Spreading manure.

So, we like giving the kids in our life a taste of a life we grew up with and loved. I follow a Sonoma blog  OfWomenandWine and I found a post that mentioned that the nearby Studdert Family Farm was boasting lots of new lambs, so we loaded up our grandson, and headed over for a visit.


The babies check each other out.

This pretty new mamma had lots to say.

This pretty new mamma had lots to say.

I am in love.

I am in love.


A brave little guy leaves Mom to say hello.



Those eyes! Those ears!

Those eyes! Those ears!

Farm Owner Cindy takes over photo duties.

Farm Owner Cindy takes over photo duties.

The owner, Cindy, was so patient and helpful during our tour, and we learned she also provides fun programs for young children. We definitely plan to take our niece and our older grandkids back to see the lambs later this summer.

While our little guy wasn’t crazy about his initial experience with the lambs, he did love his time on “the farm.” We hope we are giving a gift he will always remember.

Being free.

Being free.

What part of your roots are you trying to pass on to the young ones in your life?



15 responses to “Farm livin’”

  1. avatar Mary McEachern says:

    Ligeia, wonderful post. I agree there is something very special about farm life and the rhythms of life the crops and animals. I also have a picture driving a manure spreader, I will have to dig it out and send over. My mother grew up in Idaho and was given an orphan lamb for a pet, named lamby the story goes that she often broke out if her pen to chase the dog.

  2. avatar Ligeia Polidora says:

    Oh Mary – I would LOVE to see the photo of you on the tractor! Of course these days, kids have their lives documented moment by moment, but I have very few photos of my working life. I am eager to see what you can dredge up. And, I love the story of Lamby.

  3. avatar Mark Drury says:

    Love what you’re doing with this land and the manner in which you are sharing it — thank you for doing so!

    Mark D.

  4. avatar Ligeia Polidora says:

    Thanks for reading!

  5. avatar Rodney K. Scully says:

    Dear Ligeia-we appreciate you and Patrick could take the time to visit with us and the Stromsborgs yesterday at the Kenwood Inn.

    Love your blog that gets to the bottom line-what is really important in life.

    Hope to see you guys while your in LA.

    Best Rodney

  6. avatar Ligeia Polidora says:

    Thank you Rodney! Looking forward to spending time together during our trip to babysit the grandkids!

  7. avatar Dick & Sharon says:

    Loved your post and the photos, Ligeia!

    We can’t wait to see you and Patrick tomorrow!

    D & S

  8. avatar Ligeia Polidora says:

    Eager to see you guys as well! xo

  9. avatar sibylla says:

    What a wonderful post. Love the historic photos and accompanying stories.
    Very cute pix of curious grandon and baby lambs exploring.

  10. avatar Ligeia Polidora says:

    Thank you Sibylla! I loved laying on the ground to shoot the lambs up close. They were so curious!

  11. avatar Eric Stromsborg says:

    Great blog!!! So good seeing you both in Sonoma. Let’s try to do it again in L.A. Patrick looks so much like his dad!
    Eric and Suzy

  12. avatar Ligeia Polidora says:

    Thanks Eric and yes, let’s reunite in LA during our upcoming babysitting stint! Patrick and his Dad do look so much alike, and they both have those movie-star eyebrows!

  13. […] And, he has seven grandchildren (and counting?) that I get to love, and care for, to teach, to share with, learn from and delight in. In addition, my grandparents left me a profound and lasting legacy of […]

  14. avatar Rayetta Esquibel says:

    I loved this post, it reminded me of my mother who grew up on a farm. She would tell of how they were wonderful years. Funny, when she got dementia she was back on that farm and everyday when I would go visit her in the nursing home I did not know which animal would be there with her. I had to take the horse Dolly out to drink water one day. On another day shoo away chickens that were all over her bed and corral them back to their pin. In her illness she was living on her childhood farm again and happy.

  15. Dear Rayetta, I am so happy this post brought back happy memories of you and your mother. I am amazed and touched that the devastation of dementia actually brought your sweet mother back to a place of simple childhood happiness. Thank you for reading, and a huge thank you for writing. XO