For Deb­bie Betts, home is her grand­par­ents’ farm.

The doors are al­ways open for life lessons or a cup of cof­fee at my grand­par­ents’ farm.

Country - - CONTENTS - BY DEB­BIE BETTS Dansville, New York

Many peo­ple don’t re­al­ize all the be­hind-the-scenes ef­fort it takes to grow what we eat on a daily ba­sis. A lot of hours and sweat go into be­ing a farmer. But no mat­ter how busy my grandma and grandpa were run­ning their farm, they al­ways made time for fam­ily. Their ex­am­ple taught me so much. Like them, I would do any­thing for my fam­ily and I have a lot of pride in my farm­ing her­itage. Al­though my grand­par­ents are both gone, my mom and her sis­ter still live on their land. They col­lect over a dozen fresh eggs daily from the chick­ens they raise. They also keep geese and plant a huge gar­den ev­ery year. I live an hour away on my own lit­tle farm, but I visit Mom’s place just about ev­ery week­end. My kids go to their grandma’s house all the time. I hope they gain the same life lessons that I did from my time as a child on the farm. The legacy be­gan when my grandpa Lewis Frey bought his 50-plus-acre farm with two barns, sev­eral out­build­ings and a huge house in Mace­don, New York, in 1938. The fol­low­ing Novem­ber he brought his bride, Dorothy, to join him and make a homestead. At first he made his liv­ing by rais­ing re­place­ment heifers for lo­cal dairy farmers and grow­ing cash crops such as car­rots. When his three chil­dren (my mom and her brother and sis­ter) came along in the 1940s, Grandpa sought some ad­di­tional em­ploy­ment in the nearby city of Rochester. When I was grow­ing up he was re­tired but still work­ing on the farm. Through the years Grandpa and Grandma raised many kinds of an­i­mals: cows, horses, tur­keys,

chick­ens, ducks, geese, pigs and an oc­ca­sional goat or pony. They also planted a gar­den that pro­vided an abun­dant har­vest for Grandma to can or freeze for the win­ter. When they first moved to the farm, Grandma in­vited her younger broth­ers to stay dur­ing the sum­mer. My mom’s cousins also came and stayed there for weeks on end. Con­tin­u­ing the tra­di­tion, my gen­er­a­tion of cousins spent our week­ends and sum­mers on the farm. My dad passed away when I was about 4 years old, and my aunt was also a sin­gle mother with young chil­dren. My mom and her sis­ter loved farm life and knew it was a great place for us, too. Along the way we were taught won­der­ful life lessons such as the value of hard work, hu­mil­ity, re­spon­si­bil­ity, in­de­pen­dence and com­pas­sion for an­i­mals. My grand­par­ents al­ways needed help weed­ing the gar­den or get­ting in hay. One of my most cher­ished mem­o­ries is when my cousins and I would drive the old two-cylin­der John Deere trac­tor and the adults would go along and pick up the bales off the ground to stack them on the wagon. Grandma and Grandpa made ev­ery­one feel wel­come as they hosted ex­tended fam­ily pic­nics, and baby and bri­dal show­ers. Fam­ily and friends would stop by year-round just to visit, ei­ther un­der the lean-to or in­side the house, but al­ways for a cup of cof­fee. Some­times they would stay long enough to play cards. My cousins and I cel­e­brated our birth­days and hol­i­days at the farm as kids, and we still do. All of us cousins gather there for pic­nics in the sum­mer. And fam­ily and friends con­tinue to stop by just to visit. The cof­fee’s al­ways on!

“No mat­ter how busy my grandma and grandpa were run­ning their farm, they al­ways made time for fam­ily…”

CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT: The Frey farm; Deb­bie’s chil­dren, Peter, Abbey and An­drew, with their cousin Trevor (hold­ing lop­pers) in the patch; Peter plants a gar­den with cousin Mary; Peter re­laxes by the creek. Grandpa Lewis Frey on his farm in 1940.

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