"Indiana Farm in Nebraska"
SOUVENIR by JOSEPH W. STARR
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(p. 1 photo; NEBRASKA IN 1880)
"A LITTLE FARM WELL TILLED,
A LITTLE HOUSE WELL FILLED,
A LITTLE WIFE WELL WILLED"
Is a good home, and should be a happy one---to the owner a "pearl of great price." But the pearl when worn, needs a new setting; and it is the setting and the fact that the owner is a Hoosier, that justifies the name given this book. The first view is of a big blue grass pasture, somewhat overstocked, and so a little weedy, but fairly representing the greater part of Middle Nebraska in 1880---and too much of it yet. A gently rolling, treeless stretch of grass, whose low, straight horizon gave view to the tops of the storm clouds when 150 miles away. Only those who have watched them know what this means. Now, standing at the southwest corner of the farm, a belt of timber stretches along the whole south line, mostly catalpa, 10 rods wide, thinned to 12 feet apart, 30 feet high, trimmed 14 to 20 feet from the ground, and some of them a foot in diameter. To the north, along the west side, stretches a similar belt of catalpas foa three-quarters of a mile, save where the line is broken by a draw filled with towering cottonwoods, volunteers, beautiful in form and natural grooping, some of them 80 feet high, 30 inches in diameter, with 40 to 50 feet of saw timber each.
These belts are not unlike the walls of timber that surrounded the early Indiana clearings; inferior in height, but superior in the soundness and vigor of youth in lieu of the more or less decreptitude of age. The tops, sun kissed,
(p. 4 photo; NORTH FROM EAST END OF LAWN)
(p. 5 photo; SOUTH ACROSS EAST END OF LAWN)
waving the same way in the breeze or gale; below the same deep shadows and comparative calm. In the low parts the grape vines climb the same way, and the same tangle of undergrowth. In spots are the same wild flowers---spring beauties, wind flowers, jack-in-the-pulpit, and others. And greatest of all, in their nests (there are no holes in the trees) the same gray squirrels, so dear to the hearts of the "Hoosier Boy." In a considerable part the carpeting of blue grass suggests the wood pastures of the old home. And, all together, as you wander in the depths the heart is apt to fill with memories of the long ago, and the lines of dear old Horace are recalled, "Of all the world the dearest spot."
Entering now from the south side we come to the lawn---5 acres, (the timber belt behind us and to the left, to the right a double row of ash,) carpeted with blue grass and white clover, dotted with big cottonwoods in disorderly array, and two dozen other kinds of forest trees planted amongst and around them, a couple of big Austrian pines, a little grove of elms, a clump of cedars, another of black locust, scattered walnuts, more cedars, buckeyes, purple and New England elms, sugar maples, ash, pecans, red oak from Missionary Ridge, maples from Lookout Mountain, and a beech tree from Indiana, small but well established; varying from 50 feet high to wee Pat Claiburne, 3 inches high, but safely the gallant "Confed" fought so well. Crossing to the east side we come upon gate to yard ahead. Going through the gate and looking back is an evening view of east side of the lawn, too beautiful to lose, and here you are. There is the youngest of the family, Fred, born in the cellar of the unfinished house, and his eldest, John, God bless him.
(p. 8 photo; N. by S. ACROSS LAWN FROM HOUSE)
(p. 9 photo; FROM LOWER RIGHT CORNER OF QUARTER)
Turning to the left, in front of the parlor window we look across the center of the lawn to the front entrance through the timber. The scattered trees hide the woods, but not the black shadows below, nor the flash of the morning sun in the open spaces. From where the good wife stands in this picture (and the dog awaiting the next move) is given another view; also of the central lawn and front entrance, but introduced especially to show how each change of point of view, however small, gives a new picture, different in its lovliness. Some of the trees drop out, others come into view, the sky line changes, there are new lights and shadows, new colors of foliage, new shape of boughs.
Along the west side of the house and to the northwest corner, and we look down the road to the west entrance, which is through the "sugar orchard" of 125 trees, 27 years old, (made the first maple syrup this spring) 30 feet high, and up to ten inches through. In tree alongside the road is one of the squirrel nests; here we often see them out foraging. The old man is busy at his favorite job at 70, holding down a barrel rack and smoking a cigar. He did it all, and part of it he is. In unsettled weather the evening walk is often down to the west line to see what the outlook is for the night. From about the house we see no storms until it is too late to worry. Young sugars, lynn, etc. are springing from the seed in this part of the grove, enough to supply indefinite but extensive planting.
North of the house a few yards, they are spraying along the east side of orchard No. 1 (there are four of them, 50 acres in all.) Orchard No. 2 is on the right, and there we see the end of the cedar wind-brake along the north side of the barn lot. In the distance are the cottonwoods---volunteers always---
(p. 12 photo; N.W. CORNER HOUSE TO WEST ENTRANCE)
(p. 13 photo; SPRAYING AN ORCHARD)
which, with broad leaf willows; fill a hollow, that runs south by west behind orchard No. 1 sixty yards to west line. There is where we are made independent of the coal and lumber combines. Beyond this timber is a corner of one-half acre, coming up with volunteer catalpas, thick as "hairs on a dog’s back."
Here is a good place to say that the catalpa speciosa is the best tree to plant in Nebraska. On good soil it is quick growth, carries but one year’s sap and is stronger weight for weight, than even white pine; very lasting in the ground, holding a nail well, but giving it up when wanted. For inside finish in a house, with its charming color, between white and black walnut, its satin finish and beautiful veining, it is perhaps unsurpassed. There are thousands of them on this place and no Indiana woods are more valuable acre for acre.
And now, last but not least, is a view of a corner of "the old man’s play-ground," most prized, for those who know her, for the picture of the little woman who graces the center. Other views could be given, by the score, all different and yet alike in lovliness, but, as the Dutchman said of his blue grass seed, "too much is a good deal, and more as das is blentig."
Will we leave this? Yes. A couple already past the allotted years of man are not equal to the care of it; and we will already have robbed the grave of half its victory when we say good-bye to our INDIANA HOME in NEBRASKA.
Diller, Nebr., 1908.
(p. 16 photo; OLD MAN’S PLAY GROUND—EAST OF HOUSE)