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View from the Cab: A changing landscape

(A farmstead in the process of being cleared in McLean County recently)

By: Kent Casson

My country drive to Lexington from the east seemed a little off the other day as something was missing.

The Friday morning trip was empty as I noticed numerous farmhouses and buildings which lined the rural route were gone and one was in the process of being demolished. Over the past couple of years, I believe there were at least a few houses in the area that were torn down.

I’m sure if the old walls could talk, they would have quite a story to tell. A story of perseverance over the years in farm country. They’ve seen many changes in those fields – from the way we raise our crops to a different landscape. Through all of agriculture’s ups and downs, those houses were there. Families grew up in the old homes and kids have some of their best memories playing around the house and in the out buildings.

It was nice to see a large shed erected recently along this route, next to a couple of grain bins. While it may not have the historic appearance of an old crib or barn, it is a sign of progress in the farm world and the need to accommodate that progress. The look of the future will probably include more large sheds and bins to store grain.

The field a mile south of my house looks different since a line of trees was removed in recent months. While the land looks bare and it feels as though we’ve lost a local landmark, I’m sure the farmer is glad to have the extra space to raise crops. It will take some time to get used to a change such as this in the neighborhood.

I recall an old farmstead on the southeast edge of Weston when I was a kid. In fact, I mowed the yard surrounding the old house and barn as Grandpa used to own the property there. I thought it was so cool to discover a bunch of old newspapers in the house which had classic wallpaper peeling from the walls and even an old rotary phone inside. The little piece of history in McLean County taught a little kid from only three miles away quite a bit.

My great grandparents’ farmstead is still standing not far from there. I have many fond memories playing in the barn, discovering antique toys on the shelf of the shed and having a generic cola, root beer or cream soda from the fridge in the back porch of the house. These buildings still stand but it is only a matter of time until the physical structures are a distant memory.

The treasured memories from the farmsteads of yesteryear will always be with us. Thank goodness for photographs and those still around to tell us the stories of those fascinating times.

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