I headed up to the ol’ farm in Havre on Wednesday and didn't get back to this weekend.
My, it was eye-opening.
My mom was born there in ‘53. She’s the oldest of 5 kids, the youngest of which runs the farm today.
My uncle Jeff...the fifth child, the only son.
I’ve always found it so interesting - my mom is the oldest of five kids; my dad is the youngest of four.
My mom was born in ‘53, but my dad’s oldest sister was born right after the war, in ‘46.
My grandpa on my dad’s side was never allowed to enter the war, because of his bad hearing. So he was sent to Seattle to build the ships.
His brother had better hearing, so was sent to the front lines in Europe. For the rest of his life, he never would donate to the Red Cross. “They never cared about us on the front lines,” he said, “just those in the back, with money from home.”
One of the first things I noticed upon leaving Great Falls is how short the wheat and other grass hays were. In past years, I’ve seen these fields quite tall in the summer. This year, the stalks are maybe 6 inches high, perhaps a foot at most.
It’s the drought.
I’ve never seen the pond on the farm as low as it was, with just a few puddles of water left.
My uncle mentioned how he hasn’t been able to grow enough hay to feed all his cows, so will sell 200 of them this year.
This despite me seeing over a hundred hay bails on his property. But I suppose the average bale only lasts a little over a week, depending on how many cows you have and how dirty it gets once it hits the ground.
Then there’s the grasshoppers.
I’ve never seen so many, except for once when I was up there in the mid-to-late-80s. Once you walk into the grass, hundreds jump about you. My uncle says they’re slowly making their way into the barley fields, working from the edges to the center.
Drought today; food shortages tomorrow.
In Havre, they seem to be having the same troubles finding workers as the rest of the state, and country.
We drove through the town one night, the KFC was open. The next night, they were boarding it up.
I didn’t see a single Missoula ‘4’ license plate after getting past Lincoln, and I’m not surprised. I don’t think Missoulians really like getting out of their comfort zones. On the drive up, I saw lots of Trump signs in yards and on barns. Most Missoulians - and especially the recent transplants - don’t think they have anything in common with these ‘hicks’ on the Hi-Line and in places like Havre. So they don’t go there.
That’s sad, because I think it’d be eye-opening for many. I think they’d also be surprised by how kind and friendly many of these rural folk are.
But most will stick to their safe bubbles, never knowing how much they have in common with the ‘little man.’