The Edelen Family Farm

Posted: October 16, 2008 in family, my experiences, nature / environment

Tomorrow after work, Erin/Eli and I will be heading to Kentucky.  It’s a pretty special, exciting, and sad weekend.  On Saturday, the Edelen family will be having a get together at my grandparents farm for the very last time.  It’s been about 15 years since we gathered there together, which makes it even more special. 

My grandparents – my dad’s parents – bought a 270 acre farm in Springfield, Ky sometime back in 1955, when my dad was just a baby.  My dad is the 4th of 8 kids – 3 girls, 4 boys – who all pretty much spent their entire lives growing up on, and working on this farm.  I’ve taken a Google satellite image – it’s as close as I could zoom in before the image was lost – and cirlced the plot of land that makes up this farm.  See the letter “A” designating a road?  That’s Edelen Lane….the 1 mile long driveway that leads to and dead ends at the farm.  Across the road from Edelen Lane is a very very old Catholic chuch that my dad has attended his whole life.  He went to school there as a child.  So when my dad talks about getting up at 5am, milking the cows, and then walking a mile to school up and down hills in the cold, the snow, and the rain….well, he actually means it. 

Most of my greatest childhood memories are from this farm.  I have two cousins, Todd & Matt, who are pretty much the same age as me.  Every year at family get togethers for Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, we would make this 270 acre yard into our personal playhouse.  4 barns, 4 ponds, an awesome creek that dissects and borders the outside of the farm, open fields, forested area, hay bail forts, jumping into corn bins, playing basketball in the upper level of one barn, shooting bb guns, swinging from ropes, skipping rocks, finding old animal bones and using them as swords, chasing after pigs, you name it.  If there is any fun to be had on a farm, we had it. 

Back around 1992 or 1993, after all the 8 children had finally grown up, left home, and started lives of their own, my grandparents decided to build a home closer to town, to semi-retire in.  The farmhouse was getting old, they had NEVER had air conditioning and relied only on wood burning stove heat, had no washer/dryer, and utilized a pretty old plumbing system.  (yes, there is an outhouse, and i’ve used it many times)  They didn’t sell the farm, because my papaw is a lifetime farmer and needed to continue to do the work, but it ended the era of family get togethers at the farm.  I actually have felt sorry for my younger siblings since then, knowing they did not really have the same opportunity as I did to enjoy our get togethers out there, to know the farm, to explore it, to love it.

My papaw – now 83 if I remember correctly – had continued to run the farm up until this year.  Mowing, hay, raising cattle, all of it.  I know my dad and his brothers have helped him out with stuff here and there as needed, but for the last 20 years it’s pretty much been papaw’s farm to work.  In the last 8 years, I’ve only visited the farm on 2 occassions, both pretty short visits, just to see how things looked. 

Then, just a couple of months ago, our entire family received an email from my dad.  The first line of the email simply read, “The farm has been sold.”  I think I speak for most of the family when I say it was like a punch in the gut.  For as long I can remember, the farm has been bordered on one side by a local rock quarry.  Apparently, they’ve been interested in buying the land for years, and finally made an offer that was too good to pass up.  Combined with the my grandparents age, and the future difficulty of selling the land had they passed away and left it to 8 children, it was definitely the right thing to do. 

So, in two days, the entire Edelen family – roughly 45-50 of us including the grandparents, 8 children, all the grandchildren, the grandchildren’s wives or husbands, and the great grandchildren – will gather together at the farm one last time.  The weather is forecasted to be sunny and in the lower 60’s, which is perfect.  I am INCREDIBLY excited at the opportunity to take Eli there for his first and only time, to explore the farm with him, go in the barns, ride the tractor, walk through the fields, and stroll along the creek.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more than he will, but that’s okay. 

I feel sad and happy at the same time.  I know on Saturday I’ll do a lot of smiling, and probably even shed a few tears.  It feels sort of like I’m losing a friend.  But the memories will live on…memories of popsicles, outhouses, good cooking, a warm stove, lots of family, endless adventures, and knowing that a family worked hard just to have food to eat and a place to sleep.  And these memories will always be good.

  1. jakeck says:


    First of all, this post made me cry. I didn’t grow up on a farm or anything like you experienced, but for most of my childhood, I did live in a parsonage with a gigantic woods behind it. It was probably 5-6 acres of nothing but tree houses, forts, jungle gyms, etc. But now having a daughter of my own and taking in the reality that she won’t experience a childhood like I had (much like you and Eli) made me sad. Good post.

    I also wanted to say thanks for contributing to the comments of my last blog post. It’s nice to know there are others out there that live in the gray with me.


  2. Jason says:

    no, thank you. pretty awesome debating going on with your recent post, huh? yeah, the farm was awesome. there were 45 of us there. eli loved it.

  3. Jakeck says:

    I’m glad you had a good time. It’s strange to think sometimes that our kids won’t get the same experiences we had as kids, but then again, they’ll have new and different ones. It’s good you all were able to cherish a moment like that. Long live Edelens!

    As to the debate, I love when “the sky is falling” rhetoric is pushed. “If Obama wins, they’ll kill every baby conceived”. It’s just rediculous.

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