Today is my Grandpa Nielsen’s 84th birthday. The man and his handshake are legends to me and I suspect to others.
This month also commemorates the 50th year he and my grandma have lived on the farm in Weston, Idaho. Before that, the farm was in the Salt Lake Valley.
And on June 25, my grandparents will celebrate their 65 wedding anniversary, and my Grandma Nielsen’s birthday is on June 29.
There is so much I could say about my grandparents. There are stories and attributes and lessons, but today I want to share a piece of my conversation with them about moving their family and farm 50 years ago.
As mentioned in an earlier post (“How the Farm Got Its Name“), my great-great-grandfather first started farming in the Salt Lake Area. His son Herman Clifford Nielsen (my great-grandfather) farmed with him, and then my grandpa and his brother Lee joined the family business too.
At ten years old, my grandpa first started to milk cows.
“On a farm when you can do something, it becomes your job,” my grandpa told me. “I liked the cows, and my dad liked the cow business, but he didn’t like to milk them. So I became a milker.”
For a time, he would milk eight cows by hand each morning before school so they could finish the morning milking faster.
“I would get up and milk those eight cows and then go in and shower, eat breakfast, and walk half a mile to catch the bus. And I never missed the bus,” he said.
Salt Lake Valley didn’t stay rural, and it soon became clear to the family that they would have to find a new place to farm. My grandpa said they were the last in their community to sell.
People were moving in fast. My grandpa said it only took city water and the sewer to come in to the area.
Valley Junior High became a close neighbor, and for a time, the kids caused some trouble for the farm as they wandered off campus to wreak havoc.
“They’d cut the strings on the hay bales and clog the ditches,” my grandma said.
For seven or eight years, the family looked for different farms. They went into Wyoming and into different parts of Idaho. They looked around Alpine, Utah. And finally found the farm in Weston, Idaho.
Because the land didn’t have a milking facilities, the process of moving didn’t happen at once but over three years.
My great-grandpa and my grandpa’s brother moved up first and took the young livestock, and my grandpa stayed in Utah to milk the cows. In a few years, there were of course needed exchanges as cows grew up and calved.
When my grandpa finally brought the rest of the herd up to the new farm, my grandma stayed behind for a little while to pack up the house and their nine children, one of whom was a newborn baby.
She watched as the barn was knocked down.
And then at last, the whole family was up in Idaho at the farm—Hawarden Jerseys—where there have been many new adventures over the last 50 years.