Century Farms; carrying on family traditions and memories

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Farms are not just a source of food for families and communities, they are a way of life and carry with them tradition and memories; like the one owned by Kenneth and Nan Hall and recognized as an Oregon County Century Farm.

The 136-acre farm has been in the family since 1915. Kenneth was born at the house that once stood on the property, of which only the foundation remains.

Kenneth told of how his grandfather traveled the country with his thrash machines working, had bought a portion of the land and his dad had bought approximately 70 acres. His uncle passed away from consumption, otherwise known as tuberculosis, and his dad inherited the land. The land was then passed on to Kenneth and his brother, Phil, who lives in Tennessee. His brother eventually sold his part of the farm to Kenneth.

Many years ago, they had cattle and hogs on the farm. However, cattle are now the only livestock with 15 cows belonging to the Halls, in addition to nine a family friend has on the property.

Kenneth and Nan, who have been married for 51 years, are both retired teachers, who taught in the Alton R-IV School District for years. The last eight years, before retiring, Kenneth was counselor at the school, and Nan was a stay-at-home mom before teaching for 26 years.

When asked what they thought about having the legacy of the farm in the family for more than 100 years, Nan said, “It is a legacy, especially the way people are losing farms. I like to see there are families that still have the farms.”

The growth of big corporations has impacted farms and farmers and it is more difficult now to make a living from farming. “Small farmers are a dying breed,” said Kenneth.

Because the Hall farm is so close to the Eleven Point River, at one time, the forest service was interested in obtaining the land.

“Now it will go to our children,” said Kenneth. He and Nan have three children and six grandchildren. The Halls feel grateful and fortunate their family shows great interest in the farm.

Approximately half the farm is open pasture and the other part is wooded. They had difficulty selling the pine trees on the farm and was only able to sell a load every now and then. However, they found someone who wanted the pine and cut all they could. Kenneth’s father, who worked for the forest service, planted the pine trees by seeds and did not want them cut in his lifetime. However, the trees were dying and falling over fences. Kenneth’s dad passed away almost 20 years ago.

Kenneth shared part of the history of the farm. He and his brother, Phil, grew up where the old foundation is located. His Granny Reid and grandpa were from the Irish Wilderness and New Liberty area.

There used to be an old store in the area his Grandma Hall ran. He was in the fourth grade when his family moved to Alton and his dad still maintained the farm until it was turned over to Kenneth.

Nan also grew up on a farm. She lived in Texas until she was seven. When a bad drought hit Texas, her family moved to the Fayetteville and Springdale, Ark. area ,where they lived until she was 14. Then they moved to Alton. “This is home,” said Nan.

Kenneth discussed how it has been an odd year for grass. “We normally don’t have grass this high and by now, we generally have cold weather,” said Kenneth. The day The South Missourian News visited the temperature was in the upper 80s. Despite the odd year, he stated they will have enough hay for cold weather. “If we get a hard winter, we can make it through,” said Kenneth.

“We rotate graze. The ASC office has taught me how to rotate graze and for years tried to convince me to do it. I’m glad I did because it really makes for better pasture for my cattle. But it’s hard for me to change,” said Kenneth.

There is one original building left on the farm. Up until recently, there were two original barns located on the property, but one had to be taken down because it blew over. The original cellar is also located on the property.

Kenneth recalled his Grandma Hall would can all summer and store everything in the cellar. There used to be a smokehouse on the farm where they would store hogs that were slaughtered and processed on the farm.

He told of them having a wagon and two horses. To go anywhere with the wagon, they had to submerge the wagon wheels in water, which they did in the pond. “The wheels had to soak up water and expand or the metal on the outside would come off,” said Kenneth.

He also told of how his Grandma Hall would often feed “bums” that passed through the area. “Farms have memories,” said Kenneth.

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