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Brubacker: Letters detail life on a Missouri farm

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Harmony Hill Farm on Jayhawk Road near Florence is home to Walter Brubacker, his wife, Sara, and their 12 children, ages 3 to 19.



The Brubackers raise melons, tomatoes, zucchini, corn and chickens to sell at the Sedalia Area Farmers’ Market, in addition to baked breads and sweets.



Mabel Brubacker, 19, is the oldest child. What follows is her correspondence this season with market board President Beverly Rollings. The notes — which start with a warm greeting and end with “Love, Mabel” — offer a look at life on Harmony Hill Farm.



June 13



 



Hi! How does this find you doing? We are all fine, and busy too, with lots of healthy weeds to keep after, produce to plant, harvest and so on. What a blessing it is to be able to work.



This weather we’re having is so beautiful and perfect. Just the right amount of rain and sunshine. And the cooler temps are welcome as well.



This morning we had just started planting another setting of watermelons, when we realized we couldn’t beat the storm that came rumbling along, so we scurried back up the hill, and made under the roof before it turned loose.



I guess we’ll have to let the field dry off a little so we can get the planting finished. The other week we put out some melons, but found it rather puzzling when one of the boys said a coon had been digging out some of the plants. Then someone thought of the fact that we had watered the plants with fish fertilizer. Of course! What coon wouldn’t like fish!? He was probably trying to find the fish he smelled, and I hope he decides there’s no gain for him to dig up our plants.



The green beans are blooming, so it shouldn’t be that long till those will be showing up at the market. The sweet corn is in tassels, but those will take a while yet.



June 30



Whew! It sure feels like summer is here, doesn’t it?! I wish it would cool off for the market tomorrow, but I guess we can’t expect it to stay cool year ’round.



Guess who else knows our sweet corn is ripening? Those naughty raccoons. And they’re so smart they won’t get caught in the boys’ traps.



July 7



 



Are you enjoying this cooler weather? We are!



The coons lost their resistance to the boys’ traps when they changed the bait to peanut butter sandwiches instead of fish. (After all, fish are plentiful in the creeks, and peanut butter is probably quite a treat!) They caught five now. So much less damage, but there’s still more out there.



My little pet goat was sick, but today he seems to be recovering, for which I am very glad. He’s a wether, and two of my sisters each have a pet goat. We want to train the three kids to pull carts, but don’t find a whole lot of time with the busy summer season here.



 



July 21



 



Summer is here without a doubt! And, I believe it’s warmer this year than last summer. I enjoy recording the high and low temperature of each day in my diaries, and today I decided to see what the weather was like last year. In the whole month of July it averaged between 90 and 95, whereas this year it’s hanging closer to 100.



Last week one of our cows had a little bull. We got a batch of heifers the other time our cows freshened. Now, this time they were nearly all bulls, but that is fine since we have plenty of milk cows for the time being. All those heifers nearly swamped us in milk, but we dried up all of them except for one, and will probably dry her up, too, when La Leche’s milk supply is “edible.” (I suppose colostrum milk is edible, but we prefer to let the calves have it!)



We finally got the last tomatoes planted, 2,000 of them, and we even had a cool, cloudy day to do it (that was a week or so ago). We only wanted 1,000 plants, but the seed packet had the wrong amount in it, so we decided more plants wouldn’t hurt us, and put them all out.



We really like the new market location! It seems to be picking up as more people find out about it. I like the “scenery” better as well.



July 26



 



What does this find you doing on this lovely summer forenoon? This is a busy day for us, but since most of the tomatoes are picked, that gives us a lot more time. This last picking produced 81 boxes of tomatoes! We are so happy for our tomato washer/polisher because that is a big time-saver when it comes to getting them cleaned.



Did you receive any rain? We didn’t get a drop, but like Walter Jr. said, the weeds don’t grow at all!



Did you ever see a pomegranate flower? My sisters started quite a row of tropical fruits, including pineapples, grapefruits, tangerines, oranges, pomegranates and even a date palm. Those can get up to 70 feet tall, so guess that means we’ll be in trouble if it decides to really grow. Anyways, the pomegranates did really well, and to our excitement, they’re beginning to bloom. The flowers are a lovely crimson color, and trumpet shaped.



Gotta run along!



 



Aug. 1



 



Yes, this is Missouri weather, albeit a little on the extra hot side. I think we may have made some heat records this year, but as far as dry weather goes, that goes along with living in Missouri. The last four or so years we were really blessed with an abundance of rain — maybe even too much in the spring sometimes.



The watermelons are ripening in this heat, and how refreshing a cold, crisp, red watermelon is on a hot afternoon. We like cooling ours off in the fridge a little before eating them.



Last week, mother duck hatched out 10 adorable balls of fluff. They are as soft as soft can be, so cute, and bright yellow. It looks so neat when the little ducks take a swim in the water bowl — little puffs floating in the water.



Canning vegetable soup came up last week, so we had fun collecting together a variety of vegetables to make a colorful soup — green beans and peppers, orange carrots, purple onions, potatoes, zucchini, navy beans and red tomatoes.



 



Don’t get too hot!



 



Aug. 22



 



Darkness is settling down, and the crickets are starting their chorus. The western sky is a faint pink, and everywhere there is a reminder that we have a wonderful heavenly Father. I am just thrilled with the goodness He has blessed us with, especially by sending His only Son so that we could be set free from sin, and have Him for our Savior and guide through this land.



Work is slowing down around here with most of the produce over with, but now it’s also time to get the fields ready for next year. The soil here is on the poor side, and that doesn’t go the best with farming, but we do manage to scratch out a few crops.



We’re raising some turkeys for the market. It’s funny the way we can make their warning sound, and they all go racing for cover. Even from almost the first day we got them, some of them would strut if we squeaked at them. It was neat the way they stuck up their tiny fuzzy tails, and dropped their wings, strutting around.



 



Aug. 30



 



How does this find you? We are well and enjoying this lovely fall weather.



Yesterday we tore up our old tomato patches, and got cover crop in, which means we cut the string loose that held up the tomatoes, pulled out the fruitless plants and the stakes and tore up the plastic. Then they disced it down and sowed in rye.



We sowed some turnips in our early garden, and they came up real nice with all that rain and sunshine. Now we need to thin them out so the bulbs can get big. We can eat the greens while they’re still young and tender. We tried them with tacos the other week, since we lacked lettuce, and it did make a good substitute, except that the leaves were a bit scratchy.



God bless your week.



 



Sept. 2



 



Yesterday evening we went to my Uncle Eddie’s corn roast. He has a steam engine, and every year he steams corn, and the neighborhood gets together.



Gotta run!



Love, Mabel


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