Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Farming Legacy

First Generation Farmers
By Dana Zurcher

I live on the property where my Grandfather, George, and Great-Uncle, Fred, started farming decades before I was born. In the Late 1940’s they purchased the property. 

Crops and cows were their livelihood. My grandmother, Gwen moved to the farm as a cook for George and Fred. Then she and my grandfather fell in love and married. My father, Gary and Aunt Sherry were also born and raised on this land. My father took over the farming for my grandpa when he became unable to.  

Zurcher's goats, Coco and Eleanor

Some of my favorite memories are of the times I ‘helped’ with the farming and daily chores. I would help my Dad feed the cows and ride in the tractor as he tilled the ground, planted seed or cut hay. My favorite time of year was harvest time, the cucumbers were ready.  My dad used to pick me a cucumber, cut the skin off with his pocket knife and hand it over! 

A cucumber from the grocery store will never taste like one straight from the field. The essence of my childhood summers was waking up to my mom working in her garden or riding her horses, my sister sleeping until one in the afternoon, roosters crowing, sun shining.

Today, nearly seventy years after my Grandfather started farming this land, I live here with my two dogs, Kayne and Travis and my two goats, Coco and Eleanor. My life is very different from my grandfather’s, but I see him in everything around me. 

Zurcher with her dogs, Kayne and Travis
A regular day for us is to walk around the property, to the pond and river; my camera almost always in tow. I am a photographer; it is wonderful to have such a wide canvas right at my fingertips. We look for signs of wild life; a Bald Eagle frequents an oak tree on the edge of the pond. 

The goats eat things along the way, blackberry leaves are their favorite. The dogs smell everything; they must see who’s been out since the last time they were here. Sometimes I take the canoe out on the pond, or take my fishing pole and lounge chair. 

Photo by Zurcher
The season I can’t wait to arrive; our summers are spent exploring the property, reading in the sun. Taking care of the garden; always looking for tips from my green thumbed parents. Mowing, endless hours spent mowing. Riding my quad on the trail by the river and cutting firewood for winter. 

The winter months are spent watching the flood waters change the landscape.  Trees fall, the ground washes away. It’s really beautiful when it gets cold enough for the pond to freeze over.

I've never appreciated something as much as the legacy my grandpa created. I like to think he and my grandmother are proud I didn't go far and still enjoy what they left behind. I feel very fortunate to have the history of my family right under my bare feet.  

Zurcher is the Gallery Director at Pacific University. 


  1. Hey, I couldn’t find an email address. Would it be possible for you to email me so that I can ask you a question?

  2. Anonymous9:35 AM

    I just sent you an email! :)