View From Our Place

Rolling up my sleeves and dig­ging in the dirt on our Ore­gon farm is the life I dreamed of as a kid.


Meet Tawny Nel­son, win­ner of the Our Coun­try Home Con­test.

Iwas an ocean-lov­ing girl, born in the sunny state of Cal­i­for­nia. How­ever, when I was about 4 years old, my fam­ily up­rooted and moved to Wash­ing­ton state, where for a short time we had the priv­i­lege of liv­ing one field over from where my ma­ter­nal grand­par­ents lived.

Dur­ing those two years of my young life, the coun­try grew roots in me deeper than the great depths of the ocean. The warm soil on my toes; the lush green, rain-ripened grass fields; trees with great limbs for climb­ing; old red barns and sweet car­rots pulled fresh from the earth are just a few of the things that have never left my blood.

Three decades later, I fi­nally get to live on my own piece of par­adise on a lit­tle moun­tain in Ore­gon. My hus­band, Ben, and I farm hay on 80 acres, where we are rais­ing our 20-month-old son, Michael, to be a true coun­try kid.

Our home is lo­cated in the small town of North Plains, Ore­gon, near the Dixie Moun­tain Grange hall, in the mid­dle of the Wil­lamette and Tualatin val­leys. This area has rich, fer­tile land where folks raise live­stock and grow grass seed, hay, grapes and other fruit, pump­kins, nuts and Christ­mas trees. Multi­gen­er­a­tion farms stand side by side with new ones.

Af­ter spend­ing so many years in cities, I’ve had to learn how to farm and gar­den. Driv­ing a trac­tor to cut, rake and bale hay was com­pletely for­eign to me. And,

hon­estly, al­though Ben is a great teacher, it’s still in­tim­i­dat­ing to work on such a large ve­hi­cle.

I al­ways longed to grow my own veg­etable gar­den like the one I used to raid at Grandma’s, but I didn’t know how. I have got­ten guid­ance from Ben and my in-laws on how to plant seeds and fer­til­ize, and on how much to wa­ter and when to stop wa­ter­ing—but there’s also been a lot of Googling and trial and er­ror. I’m still al­ways learn­ing how to gar­den and how to can.

When it comes to flow­ers, I seem to have a black thumb (which I do in­tend to fix), but I’m in a con­stant state of eu­pho­ria when I roll up my sleeves and dig in the earth, care for lit­tle chick­ens with my dog pals by my side, cook fresh-picked veg­eta­bles, walk along coun­try lanes, ride four-wheel­ers all over the moun­tain or sit by a camp­fire.

Our house sits squarely in the mid­dle of rolling hay fields that are sur­rounded by trees, se­clud­ing the fields from the out­side world in their own lit­tle par­adise. In our yard, Ben hung a swing from the shade-giv­ing branches of a black wal­nut tree be­cause of the swing I cher­ished at my grand­par­ents’ place as a child.

Here, the elk me­an­der in and out, some­times only a few feet from our house. Bright daf­fodils and or­chards give us a grand flo­ral show each spring. I love the slight el­e­va­tion that can blan­ket us in snow in the win­ter, when the towns­folk usu­ally only get rain.

“The coun­try grew roots in me deeper than the great depths of the ocean.” – TAWNY NEL­SON

I love our serene ponds, tucked into the sway­ing green fields, where a duck cou­ple or two may de­cide to rest for the night.

I love the hand-built red barn, which looks beau­ti­ful in a blan­ket of dense fog; or shin­ing in glory in the sun­rise; or sur­rounded by the flam­ing yel­lows, or­anges, reds, and pinks of sun­set; or cov­ered in fresh white snow, set in the ex­panse of hay fields in con­trast with the bright blue sky.

I love my in-laws’ his­tory with this place, which is near­ing its cen­tury mark. Al­most ev­ery­thing here was made and cher­ished by a pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. My hus­band’s pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther bought this land in 1945 from the orig­i­nal home­stead­ers. They then cleared the fields of old-growth tim­ber by hand. Ben’s dad re­mem­bers his fa­ther dy­na­mit­ing each and ev­ery stump, af­ter­ward smooth­ing the dirt for hay and, at one time, also for straw­ber­ries.

I love the rick­ety old shack where pigs were bred; the barn’s milk­ing sta­tions; the ma­chine shop.

I love the dip in our lawn where the farm’s orig­i­nal dirt-floor house used to stand. I love the newer, not-dirt-floor house built in the ’50s that Ben and I ren­o­vated to­gether to make our own.

And I love that our son gets to grow up here, Lord will­ing, as the next gen­er­a­tion to en­joy the beauty of cre­ation, learn­ing the val­ues of hard-but-sat­is­fy­ing work, the faith and pa­tience it takes to wait for crops to grow, the com­pas­sion and care for neigh­bors and lit­tle an­i­mals, the re­ward in feed­ing and help­ing those around us. This truly is a piece of heaven, and we are blessed to en­joy it to­gether.

Michael and his buddy, Elsa, peek into the barn to spy on the chick­ens.

Elk of­ten graze a few feet from Tawny’s home.

Tawny and Ben show their son, Michael, some out­door fun—fish­ing on the Columbia River in As­to­ria, Ore­gon.

The Nel­sons grow hay on 80 fer­tile acres that have been in the fam­ily for al­most a cen­tury.

Clock­wise from top left: Ev­er­green vi­o­lets nearly make a car­pet of golden sun­shine. Del­i­cate western tril­lium ar­rives around Easter, and red­flow­er­ing cur­rant and pur­ple oaks tooth­wort color the fields.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.