Farmer’s Grove, Treasure Trove

I’ve always been fascinated by the stuff farmers keep in their groves. Not that I’ve spent a lot of times in groves — we had a fort in ours on the family farm when I was growing up, while my Kandiyohi County cousins created a masterpiece that was the envy of all of us kids.

Their grove didn’t have just one fort, but rather consisted of a maze of rooms — probably half a dozen or so. One summer, when I spent a couple of weeks at Grandma’s house, my cousins and I would spend hours playing make-believe house and racing from “room” to “room.” We mixed up mud pies in old pie tins in our make-believe kitchen, and just had a wonderful time.

Our fort here at home was never quite so fancy. I think it was because our “new grove” was established in straight rows, not like the old groves that had no order about them. The old groves had character.

Of course, we always had plenty of supplies for our fort — the hand-crank corn sheller was used to supply just enough corn kernels to pour into a cracked bowl and put on the table (a discarded metal TV tray or one of those wooden cable reels). We had a stove (tossed out from the old farm house), pots and pans with broken handles and a smattering of no-longer-appreciated utensils. As a last resort, sticks were used to mimic wooden spoons, and leaves (especially in the fall) could be whipped into any kind of Minnesota hotdish our young minds imagined.

These days, it is the next generation that has taken over the fort-building in our grove. Over the weekend, I was out there admiring their handiwork.

Over the last year or two, Grandpa and the grandkids have transformed an old A-frame hog hut into a rather respectable dwelling. Old headlamps were nailed by the front door to serve as imaginary outdoor lights (imaginary only because they have not gone so far as to install electrical wires out there!) The roof has a collection of shiny metal hubcaps recycled from Grandpa’s junk collection, no doubt. There are chairs without seats, pans without handles and a mailbox post without a mailbox.

I have yet to figure out why my old hairdryer is secured just above the entrance — maybe it’s supposed to be the doorbell, or a weapon to scare off intruders, I have no idea! I was kind of disappointed that my little niece didn’t invite me in for tea on Sunday afternoon, but we had such a busy day driving over gopher mounds, walking to the turtle pond and visiting the baby chicks in the barn.

In between, my older nephew, niece and I explored the farm yard for eclectic items (Grandpa’s junk) that could become recycled treasures. Matt ended up claiming an old sign, and arrangements were made for Kaitlin to save a pair of old barn doors from the burn pile.

Just before the sun set, Katie, Zach and I had made our way to the far reaches of the grove and the shell of a car that’s been resting there since before my folks bought the farm in the mid-1960s. It was our last exploration of the day. That treasure is way too big for any of us kids to claim, besides, it’s got a rather nice resting place where it is — in the farmer’s grove.

6 Responses

  1. Michelle Marotzke

    Too cute, Julie! When I bought my farmplace by Hancock, I was rather surprised to see what looked like a hobo hut in my grove. Of course, I bought the place in August and it was the following spring that I even noticed anything out there. It was an old milk truck filled to the brim with everything from shoes to pots and pans. I never let Tyler play out there (a setback of being an only child I suppose), but I’m sure if it had been my sister and I growing up there, we certainly would have found treasures and exciting things back in that grove!

    1. Julie Buntjer

      Thanks for reading, Michelle. Groves always seemed to be the place to hide every piece of broken machinery and general junk. I bet that old truck is filled with some interesting “treasures.”

  2. Dona Ellerbroek

    I loved this Julie! Brought me right back to my childhood. Amazes me how your writing can take me there – a gift! Actually I just did the “grove” trip two weekends ago and found “treasures” with my grandson! Memories for a lifetime!

    1. Julie Buntjer

      Thanks for the kind words Dona. If you happened to find any old chicken wire in your grove, I have a niece who is looking. We were unsuccessful in our search through the Buntjer farm’s grove! =)

  3. Reading this post brought back many wonderful memories of growing up on a dairy and crop farm near Vesta in Redwood County. My siblings and I, too, played for hours in the grove, in our forts, winding along the hard-packed dirt paths through the tangle of trees. We utilized our imaginations and whatever resources were available to pretend.

    The old grove on the home place, the old house where I grew up, so much is gone. But the memories will always be there. Thank you for sharing yours, which are so similar to mine.

    1. Julie Buntjer

      Thanks for reading. What a wonderful experience it was to grow up on a farm, and thank goodness we have our memories!

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