Friday, August 15, 2008

Lester F. Rittgers (1912-2008)

For the past few days I have been blogging about some of the details of our journey towards farming. I am going to continue with that theme, but today I would like to take a moment to remember a great family farmer, Lester F. Rittgers, my wife's grandfather. He spent his life farming some of the greatest black dirt in the whole Midwest and worked with his family on a truly diversified family farm for much of that time.

Grandpa Rittgers and his wife, Alice, raised their five children on their farm in rural Iowa and raised everything from dairy cattle, hogs, and chickens to hay, corn, and beans ... along with everything in between. As their children grew up they were all instilled with a wonderful work ethic and all five of them have continued in their agricultural heritage in some way or another.

From the short amount of time that I got to know Grandpa Rittgers and through the legacy he has left in his children I can tell that he was a great farmer that took pride and joy in the work that he was able to do. Even when I met him in his late 80's he was still helping the boys with farm work as often as possible and loved every minute of it.

I am very thankful for farmers like him and the families that they brought up. It is my prayer that their dedication, knowledge, and love for all things farming will be passed on to future generations of small family farms in our country. They are not just a quaint image of our country, but rather a very important part of our ideals and values!

1 comment:

Steven said...

Speaking of and earlier generation's diversified farms...
I made a great discovery while cleaning out my aunt's shed this weekend! I found a box of notebooks that have the year and the word "Diary" written on the front of each one. After looking through a few we figured out that they were a log of what my grandpa (and sometimes great grandpa) did each day on the farm. There are also books listing expenses and sales. The earliest one I've found so far was 1940 and they go into the 60's at least. At the bottom of the box there could be older ones.
My mom thinks that most of it is in my grandmother's handwriting so it could be that it was dictated each evening. I've even found little diagrams showing where fruit trees were planted, what kind, and what year they were planted in.

One sales list for the mid 40's lists wheat, barley, corn, beans, hay, straw, 39 Hogs, 7 cattle, 279 lbs of pecans, and probably stuff I can't remember. Hogs were by far the biggest money maker on that year.

I read about where grandpa planted pasture, what seed and what seeding rate. He even logged how many steps between passes when using a hand broadcaster. We found the hand seeder too!
I could go on and on but I'll eventually tell more about it and maybe make it a recurring post on my own blog. "On this day 60 years ago... grandpa ...."

If anyone has any questions about what gas cost, seed, hay, ditch digging, etc. back in the 40s-60s I can now help you out. :)

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