Ploughed the back forty, got married.

farmer wedding

Longtime friends of mine, Albert and Leeann on their wedding day.


This rainy day, I seem to recall the journal of a farmer from more than a century ago.

I was interviewing this man’s grandson, also a farmer. It was the man’s custom to write down what he did at the end of each day. While telling me about his grandfather, the middle-aged farmer pulled a worn, leather book housed in a sheath of heavy plastic and showed it to me.

It was in the spring of year 1900, time for plowing and planting. The farmer was in his 20’s at the time. He was already versed in the vernacular of a behind-the-plow view of a mule and how to make a living. He also had been courting for some time now. It was time to take care of the essentials.

“Plowed the back 40,” read the first entry on a day in May 1900. “Went to town, married Linda.”

There, along with the essentials of a man’s work was a life-changing experience viewed in the same light as an everyday occurrence.

No doubt this farmer had studied his intended like the soils in his fields or the changing seasons. More than 50 years of marriage down the road would vouch for his “living with his wife in an understanding way.” Being a farmer he knew, for example, there’s a window of opportunity for planting. Just a few months earlier and he could have doomed the seeds to a freezing death. Planted a couple of months later and the summer’s heat would devour the promise of a new crop.

It’s interesting how life is full of little markers. The first buds of a peach tree, the appearance of a robin in the spring, yellow daffodils. Then, the seasons change to the sweltering humidity of June, July and August.

It strikes me as I remember reading this old farmer’s journal, how he placed plowing a field and getting married on the same page. He was likely planting by the signs.

I can hear the conversation around the pot-bellied stove of yesteryear just as easy as I can hear the rain hitting the window pane.

“So, what did you do today?”

” Well, I finally got that back 40 plowed. And, oh, by the way, me and Linda got married.”

See how it’s worked out so far for me and my Linda at

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