Beauty of farm life springing up all around

Farm Forum

Editor’s note: American News contributor John Papendick is spending his summer helping on the family farm in Faulk County. He is writing about his adventures in a series of columns.

I kicked off this series by writing about creating a fantasy farm league.

That is not too far off base. I know many people who have a farm fantasy. A tractor, a few acres and some animals. And a little sweat equity to power it.

“Green Acres is where I want to be. Farm living is the life for me.”

That was part of the theme song from the popular TV program of the same name that ran from 1966 to 1971. It was about a New York City lawyer and his resistant wife (Eddie Albert/Eva Gabor) trying to be farmers in the small, quirky community of Hooterville.

Such dreams reside in the hearts of many, including me and my wife. Many a morning over the years, we have sat on our big-city deck in Aberdeen over a cup of coffee with a dollop of dream, flavored with life on the farm.

Many times during my career as a newsroom leader have I said to myself, “I wish I were working with cows instead of people.”

Those were the days that I forgot that cows kick, don’t always listen and want their backs scratched, just like journalists.

This spring, when I was needed on the farm (I grew up on one), I answered the call.

And thanks to my mentors, it has been everything I had hoped for, and more. And some days, less.

Among the greatest moments have been the wildlife — except for the occasional rat, skunk and possum. But I have seen herds of deer, horses and cattle; tons of pheasants, rabbits and birds you could write books about; and foxes, gophers and the friendly dogs of others.

There are buffalo, elk and goats being raised in our state. We are not the land of infinite variety for nothing.

On the 70-mile drive to and from the farm, I have seen beautiful farm sites. A popular theme these days is to display pieces of the past.

It is not uncommon to find elevators from small towns that once dotted the South Dakota landscape. You would come upon a town and see in the distance its water tower, elevator and lights from its ballpark.

Here in South Dakota, those are our skyscrapers.

Other decorations I have seen on farm sites:

• A railroad depot complete with crossing lights and signs with area town names.

• Buildings dressed in siding like those you would find in a town, including what looks like a church.

• Old farm equipment from years gone by whose rust is strangely seductive in the sunlight.

And then there are the unintentional decorations. Like the eight John Deere tractors I saw parked on a farm site one day; the lone saddle high atop the wooden railing that adorns one farm entrance; and the wagon full of smiling, laughing farm children joyously, slowly being pulled by a four-wheeler in today’s version of a hayride.

My new colony friends/neighbors know how to have fun.

I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And fortunately for me, I am getting an eyeful these days.

Longtime South Dakota journalist John Papendick is a freelance writer, public speaker and seeker of new life experiences. Email