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Skagit County farmland at the base of the Casc...

 

A Piece of Our Past

By Lysa Evans

     As I make the rounds through the back roads of Skagit County, I am awestruck by the beauty of the farms and ranches that inhabit the area. I am also in awe of the dedication that those that have committed themselves to providing the public at large with the basics of the food we eat.

     As I slowly meander my way along the narrow and twisting roads of the county, I spy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on the various homesteads. Depending on the time of year, there are luscious fields as far as the eye can see filled with corn, wheat, cabbage and lettuce, as well as grapes at the wineries. Our local farmers grow anything from cucumbers, squash, zucchini, a multitude of berries and melons.

     My favorite time is tulip season. If you have never seen the tulip fields in Skagit County, you are missing something spectacular. The colors that burst forth and create rainbows across the fields are a sight to behold. I am very impressed with the hard work and dedication that these growers posses to provide us with the best that Mother Nature has to offer.

     As my friend Kim and I were heading north on I-5, we spied a wheat field that had recently been reaped. In the processes of clearing the fields, they wrap the bundles of wheat in large, round, white pieces of plastic. I made the comment to Kim that it looked like the field was filled with what I could only describe as enormous marshmallows.

    Kim proceeded to tell me that when her girls were young, she had them convinced that they were, in fact, very large marshmallows that were sent to factories and cut up to make little marshmallows. After a good laugh, we got into a discussion about what we tell our kids to explain all the things in life that they are curious about. Some fact, some fiction, depending on what we are attempting to explain and how old the child is. Creativity is the mother of invention.

     The ranches in the valley are filled with a variety of cows, steer, miniature donkeys, llamas, goats and horses. I drive out to Chuckanut Road to watch the horses play in the pastures; chasing, nipping and having a grand old time with their buddies. I love horses and could spend all day sitting on the fences that surround the brilliant green pastures; watching and listening to their chatter and laughter. 

     Part of the history in our county are the various barns, old and new. When I view an old, falling down drunk barn, I try to imagine it’s grandeur way back when. Was it a bright red? Was the loft filled with hay? What did it once hold? Why was it left to fall down around itself instead of being cared for with love? I pull out my camera and attempt to catch the essence of these old barns, hoping that those that view the photos will be as intrigued with them as I am.

     Some of these barns are quite large, giving thought to cows being milked in the morning by the children of the farm, while the adults tended to the heavier work. Mucking out stalls, lining them with fresh hay and caring for the tack used in the daily workings of the farm. I imagine a hen house where fresh eggs are gathered daily and roosters making an announcement that everyone needs to rise and shine just because they say so. Very pushy of them don’t you think?

     The hard work it must have taken to build the barns when machines were not available to assist these people of the land impresses me. This is why I can not understand why they were left to rot and fall apart. It does not makes sense to me to build something magnificent and then let it go untended and uncared for. The missing boards and sagging roofs, some blackened by fire and others just barely upright. It saddens me to loose these pieces of our past.

     The farmers and ranchers must move forward in whatever way they deem necessary. Whether it is to repair their old barns or just start over with “new and improved” outbuildings that serve their current needs. Still, it does make me question why some of our history is not better preserved.

     Next time you are in the countryside, no matter where you live, and have a chance to see these wonderful farms and ranches for yourselves, do take the time to check them out as I have. It may just give you a different perspective as to where our food comes from and the people that are dedicated to providing.

     Until next time…….

Peace, Love and Brown Rice

 

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