Home Places


The word, home, has the most comforting sound to it for me, probably because I am a confirmed homebody after living an earlier part of my life in seventeen different places in six different states. Even then, I tried to make a home out of every place I lived. As I like to tell, I surreptitiously planted onions and radishes in the landscaping around my college dorm. But as soon as I could manage it, I came back to the scenes of my childhood. That meant that my wife could not go back to her childhood home and I am forever grateful that she went along with my yearning.

Unlike Carol’s home farm which disappeared under a subdivison, mine remains miraculously somewhat the same as it was a hundred years ago. Carol and I returned to this home area forty years ago, and, except for the fences that had disappeared as small fields of yesterday were turned into the bigger fields of today, the lay of the land was about the same and still is. The fields are occupied and farmed by my siblings and we were able to go together and buy the woodlots and some fields around the farm. So I can go to the place east of the barn where I was disking ground at age 16 and see almost the same landscape of field, stream, pasture, and woodland that so pleasured me that long ago June day. I was singing “How Are Things In Glocca Morra” (still about my favorite song) and thought that I was the luckiest person in the world. I have theorized that maybe I was high on exhaust gases from the tractor muffler that stuck up in my face. But whatever, no view of ocean, mountain, plain or canyon in the whole United States has ever filled me with that much joy. Good old home.

I suppose it can be true of urban places too, but when home is a farm and you are there every day as a child, without the knowledge of any other place to distract you, it takes on a special preciousness that never goes away. That’s why so many of us eventually come home to put down roots. Even when writers and singers and painters go away from their childhood farm homes, they often write, sing and paint those places all the rest of their lives.

Not so long ago, lying in a hospital bed, I decided to recreate the old fence lines of the home farm in my head (I live two miles from it now), walking along each fence boundary in my imagination. I was surprised how well I knew them, how many acres were in each field, and how many details I could remember. Even more vivid were little adventures and happenings that occurred in various places in those fields that I had almost forgotten. I can take you to almost the exact spot where as a child I fell off the plow beam. My father had allowed me to ride there as he held fast to the plow handles while our horses, Bell, Flora and Daisy pulled the one-bottom plow. There was little danger involved but the fall scared me exceedingly which is probably why I remember it.

As I walked across the land mentally, I recalled little incidences of my life all over the place, like specific spots where I had found my best Indian artifacts. Where fields edged up to tree groves, I remembered where I had found morel mushrooms. And right about there in the pasture above the creek was where our dog, Brownie, tried to bury a rabbit that was not quite dead yet, much to my boyhood amazement. And over there in the creek, a raccoon almost drowned Brownie. And just upstream from there was the big elm where Dad hung a hay rope so we could swing across the creek. And there behind where my sister’s house stands now once stood a big strawstack that all the farmers roundabout helped build. I still can see my cousin, Adrian, on top of the stack, shaping it up, a red bandana over his nose to keep from breathing in too much chaff. I imagined him being a cowboy, maybe Tom Mix.

Home places. They turn the mind into the most wondrous scrapbook of historical pictures and stories that seldom get published.


Hay Deb Wingert a very neat poem in deed. I too have a few arrow heads and other little things Ive found over the years that I treasure greatly. Now Ill go dig them up and have a fresh look at them.

Gene, You nailed it. I believe there is a Heaven, but if I never see it…I will be OK because God has let me live in Heaven here on my farm.

I built this place from the ground up in the manner of my grandparents on both sides. I have this place because an elderly couple thought that I would make a good caretaker. They felt that way enough to have had their ashes spread here…I talk to them often.

I have this place because my wife embraces my lifestyle, supports my farming habit and loves me without ceasing.

I farm the old ways using draft animal power, shying away from GMO, herbicides, pesticides, and the foolishness spread by our land grant colleges. I don’t know if they are right or wrong, but I do know the old ways have been tested for eons

This is my place in the universe. My soul is home, my heart is free and forever on this place is where I’ll be.

One of my favorite memories growing up on our family’s farm was the 2nd floor screened in sleeping porch above our front porch. My brother and I slept out there at least six months of the year – April to December one year. There was a big old maple about 25 ft from the house and its branches were pretty close. I can still hear them whipping in the wind when a summer thunderstorm would pass through during the night.

So I see you’ve added movie star to your resume. OEFFA sent out notice of a preview screening of the new documentary GMO OMG with a link to the movie trailer. One of the cuts was this contrary guy questiioning the standard “just trying to feed the world” line of the selfless GMO proponents. Congratulations!

Hmmm – a sense of place, or perhaps terroir. I wonder if my blood would taste of the dust of California, seasoned with Pacific coast salt spray, California bay and manzanita berries. I tried to adopt Alaska as my home, but the pull of this land has kept me here for nigh on 40 years. We travel lots, but, like a dog on a retractable lead, we loop back to these fifty acres.
Read your “Gene Everlasting,” and, like you, I will be here forever in some form or other – home.

Well that is another part of the “Sense of Place” I’ve been researching. Perfectly fitting in with some of the theories 😀 of those who recreated their “home”

Dear Gene,
I have six weeks of treatment in Chicago, six hours from home. I’m a homebody and being away from everything and everyone that I love has been hard. When I get back to Columbus it will be that much sweeter. Thanks for all you do.

Lovely post, Gene. Thank you!

Perfect timing indeed, I am currently recuperating from what I hope is a minor medical setback with too much time on my hands. Your post reminded me of my family’s 25 years on our little farm, building our own home and barns, running fence for cattle, raising chickens, gardening and cutting wood for heat (all with the help of your book “practical skills) Memories that I would not trade for all the tea in china! Thank you!

Love these posts and replies.

At first blush, I thought I was going to go against the grain here in what I’ve come to consider my “home place” in only 6 short years. When I bought this 12 acres, it had only a falling-down tobacco barn on about one-half pasture and one-half hilly woods and rocky, gullied creekbed with a mud-bottom pond. In time I build a small house, repaired the barn, built a chicken coop and two goat sheds, moved my beehives here and to a couple of nearby farms, established a garden that supplies all my vegetables, and came to know every square foot of this ground quite intimately. It indeed contains my blood, sweat and tears. It is more home to me than anyplace has ever been.

So! Recently my siblings and their spouses were here for a family dinner and my brother looked around and announced, “You’ve recreated Grandma and Grandpa White’s place in Arkansas!” At that moment, I realized that oh yes, I had! That was the home place where I was born and has since been subdivided and is no more. It was so obvious–once he’d pointed it out to me!

I have a jewelry box that contains no diamonds or gold.
More precious are the arrowheads it will always hold.
My eyes were always moving as I hoed from weed to weed.
For these sacred relics of my childhood are all the wealth I’ll ever need.

On our farm, I mowed each field dozens of times throughout my teenage years, spiraling in tightening circles, over and over. Thousands of miles were wound up in those acres. Every tree or fence line was a familiar gauge of progress or an obstacle to be worked around. Keeping an eye peeled for rocks and groundhog holes, you pay close attention every foot of the way. I still remember everything about that landscape, and it’s still my real home. My brothers didn’t spend as much time in that tractor seat and don’t seem as connected now.

There weren’t any text messages or distracting phone calls back then. Now I watch the young tractor drivers in their air-conditioned cabs as they go round and round. They’re on the phone the whole time and won’t remember much about where they’ve been. Besides, it’s not their family farm. It’s just another faceless hundred out of many thousands of rented acres that they have to work each season.

Absolutely fascinating and timely your reminiscences of home. I am currently studying what academics think about the subject, sometimes referred to as “A Sense of Place” and that can get a bit dry and somehow they don’t seem to capture what it means the way you two have. Now how to combine that into my study 🙂 at least it will be more readable

Gene you nailed it again.
I still remember 40+ years ago being in school ( a training ground for missionaries) and working in a beautiful area of Puerto Rico. I thought at the time being a missionary to tropical places was indeed my life’s calling. Apart from being evangelistic oriented, It was amazing to break open coconuts that fell from trees along the beaches to enjoy the wonderful flavors, picking and eating wild mangoes and gleaning ripened on the plant pineapples after the commercial harvest,(with the farmer’s permission of course) catch crabs and spearfish tropical reefs for dinner. Not to mention the gorgeous females on the beaches. (just becasue one is studying to be a missionary doesn’t mean one becomes blind.) But I dreamt at night of the smells of fresh cut hay, apples ripening on the trees and the smells of ripening vineyards, pine trees and sagebrush all accompanied by visions of wildflowers blooming on the shrub steppe in the early spring. along with the sounds of cows bellowing for calves and sheep “baaing” for their flockmates. It was, not to be overly romantic, the call of home.

Others may envision where I live as a barren desert only worth living in becasue of the productivity induced by irrigation and that may be true. All I know is that for me the sights sounds and smells I described mean home. Therefore, I can say I’ve been from Puerto Rico to Alaska but came back home. After I thought about this subject for a while, I eventually came to the conclusion that my ancestors traveled great distances by wagon train and horseback to get here just to make a home. It is therefore altogether fitting I should endeavor to carry on what they started and continue to make this “home” .

Truth be told, once you put something of yourself into a place: work, seeds, building something substantial such as fruit houses, barns and storage buildings, wood sheds, even a house, marry and raise children and now grand children, memories of a place are created and it becomes ingrained in our beings in ways I don’t pretend to understand as :”Home”.

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