Reclaimed by Rustic Grain: 2018
The farm property is just north of Crocker, off your typical windy Ozark Mountain State Highway. We head north up Bethany Rd, named after the cemetery at the corner, Bethany Memorial Gardens. The gravestones are strewn with bright flowers despite the July heat. As we travel to a barn many would say has been forgotten by time, those beautiful bouquets hint that maybe nothing is really forgotten here. Memories can endure, even when the physical body changes.
We wind down gravel road, following the contours of the hills and hallows past the small farm plots the ridges allow and right by the Happy Hollow Pumpkin Patch and Petting Zoo, where quiet goats and exotic cattle graze lazily under the zipline. We turn due west down Boulder Rd, which grinds straight as an arrow, stubbornly climbing ever hill and suffering every gully, until we cross Carroll Creek and make our way past the horses that now call this farm home.
The inside of this barn was built low for hogs, not horses or cows–a classic Missouri hog barn in classic Missouri hog country. The land dictated the product. Fields were bountiful enough to produce feed and staples for the family with only a little bit of cash crop. But nothing stays the same.
Today, you won’t see a pig around. Small family farms have given way to co-ops and conglomerates. The everyday hog farm can’t compete with a global economy. So the farm adapts. Across the creek, novelty animals and seasonal entertainment help the farm run. Here, boarded horses provide a new living off the land that has sustained them for over a century.
But those activities don’t fit in this barn. So the barn adapts too. It could return to the ground, providing some nutrients as the land reclaims its own, but the family wants to preserve its legacy, to leave a memorial.
This barn gets one more chance to shine. To provide the raw material for another family business. To share its bounty with homes across Missouri, Illinois, and the USA. The next generation might not get to walk through a dirty old hog run like this, but they might grow up eating pork steak on a table with that story to tell.