The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

For the first time in 25 years, the 15 acres south of the house here on the farm is being plowed. Turned black. Furrows of prairie-grass sod lined up like little roads, stretching back and forth over the hills.

And it’s being plowed by horses!

Here’s the story: This land has been in Conservation Reserve, planted to a mix of prairie grasses for many years. It’s home to pheasants, deer, big and little nesting ducks, geese, and sandhill cranes. That CRP contract expired this spring, so said the person on the phone from the Conservation place, and would I want to extend it?

Sure, said I, as long as I have to do nothing to it. (The last time I extended it, I had to disc down three acres, reseed it to one particular grass, to meet some government requirement. A waste of time and energy, because the Indian and Big and Little Bluestem immediately absorbed it. So.)

Okay, she said. She called back a couple of weeks later and said “We can extend it, but you have to remove the windbreak of blue spruce, caragana, and red splendor crab apple trees that parallel your long, long, long driveway. What?

  I’ve watched those trees grow for all those years. That windbreak keeps snow off the driveway. Really? Remove it?

I said to her: “Thank you. You’ve allowed me to make the easiest decision I’ve made in several years.” And I said “No.” Then I  said: “FYI: You are the people who told me to plant that windbreak back when. Just saying.”


But heck,  now I get to watch a four-horse team pulling a single-bottom sulky (one you ride on) plow, right out my house window. As time goes on around here, there are more and more horses around, pulling wagons, carriages, and all kinds of things.

I was born in “44,” and I just barely remember dad’s horses, which tractors were at that time replacing. I may have been five when dad would put me up on Ned, where I would sit while Ned walked around and around a corn grinder. Dad would carry bushels of ear corn in and dump them to be ground up, and exchange the now-empty basket for the one full of ground ear corn. Around and around.

I remember how wide and flat and large Ned’s back was, as I sprawled up there, hanging onto his harness for dear life, yet feeling pretty pumped about “going for a ride.” A vivid memory, one which comes back now that there are horses around.

When we moved here in ‘73, there were five dairy farms between me and town. That dwindled down until there were none. Now there are three–all Amish, milking either cows or goats. That’s quite a trip down memory lane for me.

I’m kind of pumped about it, you know.