101 Stories

with which I follow the road of the Family for a Century

36. The Woods.

None of our boys or girls ought ever to forget what Grandpa Garton had to do when he came first to our old family home. The south end of the farm was under cultivation and, in the custom of early Iowa farmers (who vainly thought there was no end to the fertility of the virgin soil) they had farmed the same field until it was becoming barren. But the north eighty acres of it was covered with woods. This gave an opportunity for new land and that of unusual richness, but it meant hard work and lots of it. Trees were to be cut, brush cleared, ground plowed and stumps, sprouts to be cut out of the corn and eventually the stumps themselves removed. It was a lifelong job for him. He was never large and robust. I remember, even near the end of his life, being out with him about the place and he would set fire on a stump to let it burn while we worked at a crop or a fence. It was characteristic of him to work slowly, quietly and effectively at these hard jobs among the hills and the trees he loved, singing as he worked and always with a song to fit the task in hand. I used to wonder at the number and variety of the songs he knew and sang.

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