Thursday, June 25, 2009


Jim and I, and our children for that matter, have always wanted to live close to the land, and to work and play on acres of meadow.

For a long time, when we lived in Seattle and worked for hourly pay, there seemed to be no end in sight to the routine of getting the children and ourselves up and out of the house and each of us to our respective schools and jobs. We wouldn't see each other again until evening when we were all tired and emotionally drained. Then, it was time to prepare for the next day.

It was only when I was alone in traffic, inching along in grid lock that I had the time to dream of another way of life, a rural, agricultural, family and home centered lifestyle, and that is how I passed the time during those days. Planning and dreaming and trying to find a way to do what is important to us occupied many hours of what would have been wasted time.

And likewise for Jim. Throughout all the years of our married life, Jim has been looking at tractors. He loves old tractors and has always wanted one. On leisurely drives through the western Washington countryside, if there was an old rusting hulk of a tractor for sale on the side of the road, he had to stop and get out and look it over. And when he discovered Craig's list on the internet, he spent hours scrolling through and searching for farm equipment and land.

During the days when we were both working full time at our Seattle area jobs and living in a rambler in Sea-Tac, Washington, there was no possible use for a tractor and certainly no place to put such a thing. But, Jim had a dream, and both of us, even though we didn't know it then, had a bucket list.

Jim always told his mother, Mary Elizabeth (Crain) Brockamp that he would like first option to buy the quarter of land next to the twin buttes out side of their old home town in Timber lake, South Dakota. The land had been owned by Mary E's father, William Crain and then passed down to her.

During the years when Jim was growing up, that quarter and the Butte quarter next to it was farmed/ranched by Jim's parent's, Mary and Julius (Butch) Brockamp, who with seven children, lived on another farm that Mary lovingly called "the homeplace".

The children, James Lawrence Brockamp. (Jim) included, spent many hours there and at the Little Morreau Dam Park which is nearby. Working on the farm and later cooling off, playing and and enjoying picnics at the Little Morreau , was part of the fabric of life for the family during the 1950's era when J.L. Brockamp was a child.

One of Jim's fondest memories is of saddling up his horse Flicka after his chores on the "home place" were done, and preparing for a ride to the Little Morreau Dam. His mother, Mary would pack him a lunch, and he would roll up a blanket for a "bedroll" (just like the in the old western movies) he has always loved, and pack it across Flicka's rump. Then he with his grub and canteen, he would start the ride down to the dam. He passed the road to the butte property on the way to Little Morreau, and then began the long winding trek by horseback down the heavily treed "breaks" in Little Morreau Park.

There were choke cherries and a type of blueberries along the way and he enjoyed stopping and throwing hand fulls of the berries into his mouth and eating them fresh from the trees and vines. When he arrived at the water's edge, he would take out his bedroll and spread it out in the grass, Then he would eat his lunch and have a short rest before starting the ride home.

These idyllic memories of a little boy and his horse on summer days in rural South Dakota, have never left him. And it's my feeling that he has always wanted to reclaim a few of those moments. If he could save time in a bottle, surely those times would be captured and revisited.

Although, Jim Brockamp grew up and left home, entering the U.S. Air Force at the age of seventeen, just after graduation from Timber lake High School, and later settled into married and family life in Seattle he always remembered those summer days and that cherished time and place when he could be free to ride Flicka for miles without seeing another person.

There were and are many blessings that came to us in Seattle, but Jim and I and our children have always dreamed of living in the country.

You could say that living in the country, and for Jim having a tractor was on our bucket list.

Imagine how blessed we felt when Jim's mother, Mary, transferred the 160 acres next to the Buttes to him before she died. She managed to save enough to leave and give cash to six of her children, and to Jim, the third of the seven, she gave the land, and some cash as compensation for the college education provided to the rest of the children that he never had. Jim never felt he was owed a college education. He chose to go into the military, and he was happy with his choice, but he was grateful to his dear old mother for lovingly providing for all of her children in life and in death.

And further, imagine our excitement in coming back to love and nurture and work this quarter section in our retirement years. We arrived here around the 3rd of June and are in awe of the beauty of the place.

And------ Are you ready for this?? Jim bought a tractor this week! Oh My God! A real tractor.
He and Alan Nelson took it out to the country yesterday. The purchase of a rake and baler are in the works as we speak. Cousin Frank Quinn, who is an organic farmer in Timber Lake has been a mentor, and Dennis Fischer and Alan Nelson and their friends are all such blessings to us in this farming endeavor.

Two very big items on our bucket list can be crossed off. Even if we kick the proverbial bucket tomorrow, we can say we lived to see this day. Jim just walks from one end of the property to another and cherishes it. We both take the truck up to the top of bluff and imagine having a cabin there with a porch overlooking miles of prairie and breaks. We know where the barn will be, and the location of the pond for wild life.

Right now it's haying season and the alfalfa and crested wheat grass have never been so lush and green. Jim is getting the haying equipment there today.

Kenny Quinn was injured by a bull yesterday and he will be off work for a few days so Jim is undoubtedly helping Frank today too. But happily so, he's doing what he loves to do.

I only hope that Mother Mary Brockamp can know of the joy and peace this has brought her son and his family.

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