In 1977, my parents invited a few college friends out to the farm for a weekend never dreaming they would create a legacy that is now three generations strong.
At our annual farm party, the participants come from varied backgrounds, careers, challenges and accomplishments. Yet, on this one weekend, life hits pause. It is three days of therapy without the couch.
Folks arrive Friday, pitch tents in the yard and fill the mobile cooler with food and spirits. The days are filled with conversation, yard games, pool time, treks down the road and food. Imagine a three-day potluck -- breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacking in between.
We've braved ungodly hot and humid summer weekends, and huddled in sweatshirts and blankets on cold nights. The campers have weathered storms, flooded tents, wandering 4-H horses and cattle, and a braying donkey. There's a story for that.
There are so many stories that Generation 3 now begs for story time. We relive the epic water balloon fights that resulted in broken house windows; folks arriving by plane; and when Generation 2 got treed in the barn loft by the herd of cattle. There was the time my dad took ill, and the men, not one of them a farmer, decided to do chores. An entire farrowing house of piglets escaped. Talk about a pig scramble.
The weekend is driven by tradition. Campfires are held each night, but s'mores are only served on Saturday after the hayride. At some point, only adults are allowed in the pool as the kids head to the creek.
We've showered engaged couples and expecting parents. We laugh until we cry, fiercely missing those no longer with us. Farms are places where the cyclic nature of life occurs daily. Naturally, it has become the place we gather each year to remember the past and prepare for the future.
Katie Pratt writes, tweets and farms from north-central Illinois. Find her blog at www.theillinoisfarmgirl.com, and follow her on Twitter @KatiePratt4
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