We’ve been preparing to celebrate our farm’s centennial since my husband put in the application for state recognition back in January. Once we received notification that the application had been approved, we set out to plan an event at our farm to celebrate with family and friends.
Last Friday, four siblings and a some of their family members traveled to the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo to receive the official Centennial Farms certificate and sign. Twenty-three farms in Colorado were being recognized that day and it was wonderful to hear the stories and to share in the emotions of hard-won battles with the environment and the families who stayed-the-course with long hours of work and a lot of creativity and love.
Stories of couples meeting at a box dinner, wooing and marrying to raise their family on the homestead; of surviving the dust bowl when many left in the dark of night unable to take it anymore; and of two sisters with a-joining claims who built their home on the property boundary and each slept at opposite ends of the house so they could satisfy the ‘must reside on the claim’ requirement to file for the deed to the land.
And a piece of our own story:
Henry Gates of Meekton, Colorado applied for a homestead entry on the southwest quarter of section 21: township 2-south, range 51-west on May 8, 1914. He lived in a dugout until he could make improvements and he received the deed to the land on June 6, 1919. In the early years, hogs, chickens, horses, cattle, wheat and oats were raised. After more land was added, both purchased and leased, the main crops focused on wheat and forage sorghum. The livestock portion of the farm consists of a cow-calf operation, and purchasing replacement quality, black/white faced heifer calves to breed and sell.
We gathered on this land, where Robert and I live, to take family pictures and share a meal together, laughing and telling stories. After our own communion, we welcomed more family and many friends who shared this special day with us. It was a joy to see people who’d grown up around here reconnecting and recognizing each other, and remembering the old times and the joy and love. I continue to be amazed at the resourcefulness and the willingness to help a neighbor in need, and the simple pleasure in conversation. We were all blessed to be a part of this.