It's March. Forty-nine years ago this week my family was getting ready to move off the farm. We were heading off to a new life in northern Minnesota.
March is or used to be the month of farm sales and moving. Leases ran out, farms were sold before the planting season and the weather could be brutal. Such was the case with the weather on the day we planned to move, March 1, 1971.
All had gone relatively well a few weeks before with our farm sale. The auctioneer showed up wearing his three-piece, beige western suit and doused with Old Spice. Atop his slicked back, dark hair sat a clean, white Stetson cowboy hat, perfectly pressed. He was impressive to say the least.
His bottom-of-the-barrel voice reverberated over the farm crowd assembled at the base of the the flatrack that he stood on. He left little doubt about who bought what. When he cried "Sold," he meant it. Get your checkbook out and get over to the account manager's trailer.
I could see that the auctioneer's heart was not really into selling the pots and pans. He also sped through the cans of nuts and bolts and assorted bent nail cans. I watched as one of my uncles bought the cracked cast iron cauldron for $2. I wondered what he would do with that thing, but later in life I found it growing pansies at the end of his driveway.
The auction took on a new excitement when it came to the machinery. I was told to start all the tractors earlier that morning to be sure they all started when the auctioneer pointed to them. I was a little hesitant when I was ordered to start our old Model A John Deere tractor. It could be a stubborn beast at times and seemed to have a mind of its own.
But, on this day I opened the petcocks, adjusted the carburetor and with one spin of the flywheel, the old "A" jumped to attention and popped merrily to life, much to my dad's joy. The auctioneer seemed pleased as the bids came in. All of the other machinery behaved well and soon we were moving to the livestock.
Our herd of mixed Holsteins stood dutifully near the fence as they were auctioned off to a number of different bidders. The feeder cattle went for above average prices as well. We had shipped our hogs the week before. As the last of the milk cows went up the chute I asked my dad, who was pushing the rear end of the critter, "Are you sad to see them go?"
He responded instantly with, "Are you kidding? Good riddance!" He never did really like milking cows.
The last pickup full of junk pulled out of the farmyard in the early evening. Suddenly the farmyard was quiet. No grunting or bellowing was to be heard as the neighbor's stock truck pulled into the driveway to load the household goods that were to make the move to Minnesota. The driver, a neighbor friend, had actually washed out the floor and insides of the truck, which had just hauled a load of cattle to the stockyards that morning.
As we were loading the truck we noticed the wind had picked up noticeably from the northeast and snow pellets began to fall as well as we finished loading the last of the load. We would be moving the next morning.
Overnight the wind began to howl and snow began to fall fast. It was a March blizzard. One couldn't see across the yard through the sheets of snow. The next morning the blizzard continued as we moved ourselves to an aunt and uncle's farm a few miles away. Two days later the storm abated and we hit the highway to the north country.
We arrived in northern Minnesota to witness three feet of snow covering our new home. We unloaded the stock truck, slugging through drifts higher than any I had ever seen before. The first night in our new residence the temperature fell to 35 below zero. Some of us wondered what we had done to ourselves.
That was 49 years ago this week. We tried to move on March 1. It doesn't seem that long ago. March is moving month. Some things you just don't forget.
See you next time. Okay?