Poverty Acres

  (Washington Court House, Ohio)
Home of The Hot Plate Catering, Best Sweet Corn, and Pumpkin Farm
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The Worst of Times can become The Best of Times



This is the time of year, we love to reflect on stories from Uncle Charlie and the late Aunt Betty, about events at the family farm. Many were about events that had to do with saving the farm. One year consisted of losing the corn crop.

It was in the spring, sometime in the 1950’s, when Grandpa Earl Harper had already planted his corn seed. He had planted over eighty acres when the rains came and the temperature dropped back in the fifties for sometime.

Most all the seed rotted in the ground and Earl did not have the funds to purchase more seed. Since the family had lost their larger farm in the depression, Earl was not going to borrow money for seed. Earl decided they would hand shell the ears of corn they had in the granary until they had enough to replant.

Aunt Betty recalled it as one of the worst things the family joined to do. When they were finished getting Earl the bushels he needed to replant, they had blisters on their hands the size of quarters.

It turned out to be one of the best corn crops Earl ever had. The corn he had left was enough to keep the livestock fed also. They were all amazed that it was so much better than the treated seed he purchased each year.

To young Karl this was just one more reason to start calling it Poverty Acres. "Make some progress and then lose it to something else", he would say. This was one more reason he was never going to be a farmer.

Karl had been President of his class, and planning a career as far from the farm as he could get. Little did he know that it would be one of the events in his heart that would tie him to the farm and this farming community for the rest of his life.


     The Worst of Times can become The Best of Times

Always the darkest just before light cont...

       Always the darkest just before light Cont…

   Fortunately, my dad and the Good Lord had prepared me for such an accident a few months before. A friend I played with many times was killed tragically in an accident. He and his brothers and sisters were in the back of their truck one afternoon. His mother pulled forward and then backed up. She did not realize he had fallen off and backed over him. He got up, ran to her arms to hug her, and died in her arms. My dad took me to the funeral and showed me what can happen if I did not keep safety in my mind at all times. He had me touch him and explained death to me.

   The night we found my dad I was the first to arrive at the tractor and picker still running. I immediately stopped the power take off and shut the tractor off. When I touched the back of his neck, I knew he was gone. He had taught me well and he had made a tragic mistake. He was very sick and a snowstorm was headed our way. He asked my mother to keep us at the house and get the milking done. He needed to get the corn in before the storm got to our farm. He was too weak to get the picker unplugged so he broke his own safety rules. He turned the power take off on and then was pulled into the picker while trying to get it unclogged.

   Within an hour, we had over 300 farmers at our farm. I still am in awe when I think about that night. They came to help and support us in any way they could. They did not leave after that night either, as they rotated helping us for three months. That was when I realized this was permanent. Our dad was not coming back and the farm, my 4-H calf, my tractor, and my whole world was at auction in Jan. of 1964.

   That alone was dark enough, but an even greater blow was yet to come. My mom informed me we were moving to town, she had no choice. That was bad, but then the next blow to my life was my dog could not go with us to town. Perky, my German Shepherd, was going to another farm. My 250-acre world just turned into a two-bedroom apartment with no pets.

   I am sharing this farm story for more then one reason. The first is to make every farmer that reads this think twice before you break safety rules including myself and my own family. Another is an example of how an accident changes everyone’s life not just the life of the person in the accident. It is the root of why I work very hard every year to help my wife, MaryAnn save a piece of her family farm. It is a small story compared to many families across this great country trying to save their family farms.

   It has been said, that for every door closed in life, the Good Lord opens up two more for you to choose to go through. I am very thankful that he has continued to give me a choice and even has led me to an awesome person to share my life with.

   Our recent family tragedy reminds us of many we have made it through. In this New Year, we close another door yet to face two doors to choose. We pray to choose the one with light, to preserve our home, our jobs, our health, and the safety of our family and friends. We are thankful and proud for Tyler’s service and pray he returns safe and well to home.

   Time for a break! I will share some more another day. May our entire Poverty Acre friends and family stay safe! Spring is coming. New life and new light is on its way.

Always the Darkest just before Light


           Always the darkest just before light

  Uncle Charlie said I should write a book and the truth is I probably could. I was born on a dairy farm just eight miles east of Johnstown, Ohio. Any dairy farmer could tell you it really gets the darkest just before dawn. I have seen it so dark you can not see your hand when you put it an inch from your face.

   It is a lot like life itself. I can not count the times my life has looked so dark I wondered if I could survive until something good happened. I remember my life starting at about three years old on the farm. I was with my Dad in the hay field picking up the smaller size round bales we had then. I was setting on an Allis Chalmers tractor with a hand clutch. My Dad would pull the clutch handle to pull the tractor and wagon forward to the next bales. One time he got off, picked up the bales and tossed them on the wagon, and then I pulled on the hand clutch. Man was he shouting at me! Then I pushed it forward and stopped. When he realized I could do it properly, that began my work with him on the farm. Imagine – three years old – people would file charges against him today. They was some of the happiest days of my life.

  He bought me my own tractor when I was seven, yes I was seven years old! It was a Farmall H International. The neighbors had Farmall M’s and he new I liked them. They had glass pack mufflers and would gun the engines to impress my sisters when they passed the house. My Dad took the exhaust muffler off mine and put a straight downspout on it. It sounded like a hemi. People heard me for miles and many neighbors complained I was too young for that.

  One day, while I was still seven, I pulled an older steel wheeled two bottom plow from behind the barns to the barn yard area. My Dad was gone some where so I cleaned it up and painted it green. When he got home, he was mad that I was on the tractor without him being around. Then he looked the plow over and said, "You know Bub – I think we have some new plow shears for that in the old shed". He found them and we put them on the old plow. He told me I could pull it through the fields, but because of the steel wheels, I could not take it on the roads. He would set the depth on the plow with the hand levers. For the next couple of years, he would plow with the Allis and I on the Farmall. I can still remember us stopping when the sun was up so high in the sky and listen for my mom ringing the dinner bell. I can still smell the fresh plowed ground like it was yesterday. I have cherished those two years all my life.

  On October 28, 1963, I was nine at the time, my two oldest sisters and I were to find my dad bent over in a corn picker. His body was there but daddy was gone. A few days later one of his favorite presidents was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Thus began the first darkest time of my life, but may define who I am today. Do accidents change our world? Is there light after the darkest hour?

Got work to do for now, but will continue the search for light later. Happy New Year to all our Poverty Acre Friends. May 2010 bring great light!



Christmas at Poverty Acres

Christmas at Poverty Acres is a time when we see very short daylight and most vegetation seems dead. My mom stands to correct me when I say that. She informs me everything is asleep and simply resting. Everything is preparing for the return of light, warmth, and love.

The farm knows God well, and regardless of how cold and dark it may seem, light does come.

Uncle Charlie’s stories remind us of that fact in every case. Like the year a tornado wiped out the barn. It brought the family again to grief and despair. Grandpa Earl did not realize that in the barnyard was a young Poland China male that was destined to become his first Ohio State Grand Champion.

Uncle Charlie informed us that Earl soon became very proud that he was able to raise such a fine Poland without a barn. God continues to remind us that it is always the darkest just before the light.

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of light. We celebrate this birth at the darkest time of the year to show our appreciation for his Light. He reminds us every year of his return. Every year we are thankful to see spring coming and the farm coming to life again.

This year is no exception. The news is filled with stories of despair and signs of time's getting worse each day. Tyler is home on leave from the Army but will return to continue his medic training in January. He may soon be in Afghanistan fighting to protect us from people who believe they know God better then our farm.

We will be fighting to keep the farm alive and in the family once again this coming year. We may even lose the fight, but it will not be lost without a fight. Uncle Charlie reminds us with each story, that no matter how hard it may seem to be, our chances are good with God, Family, and Country to serve.

Today we thaw out some awesome Sweet Corn that the good Lord helped this farm produce this past summer. We will enjoy the aroma of the summer past and relish the flavor of today. We will dream, pray, and hope for the light to come and save us in the days ahead. We look forward to that Light.

From all of us at Poverty Acres, we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and New Year filled with Light, warmth, and much Love.


Uncle Charlie learns about Farm work

Uncle Charlie’s family had a butcher shop in Cincinnati, Ohio. Uncle Charlie worked with his Dad at the market and became an excellent meat cutter. One day a young female customer, whom he knew, came in to the market with a girl that had come to her house for the weekend. They were picking up her mother’s meat order. Her friend’s name was Betty Harper.

Uncle Charlie said the air in the room suddenly changed. He said people talked about love at first sight and he never really believed it. That all changed that day in the market. He could hardly breathe at the first sight of her. He decided immediately he wanted to meet this girl! The strange part was, they were coming in for him to see her, and later go on a double date, if she met his approval. The answer was very simple – yes, yes, and yes!! That began a love that has lasted for eternity. Nevertheless, wait just a minute, times were a little different back then. Betty Harper was going to school in Cincinnati to become a nurse and Charlie had to meet her parents in Washington Court House to get their blessing on his courting their daughter.

When Betty Harper decided it was time for Charlie to meet her parents on the farm. That was the beginning of Uncle Charlie’s farm work. When he met Earl Harper at the farm, Charlie volunteered to help with something on the farm. Earl Harper was not a man of many words, but was delighted to see exactly how the city boy would do with real work. He said the animals needed water if he wanted to do that. Sure, Charlie said he could do that and he set out to water the herd.

Charlie did not realize exactly what went into watering the animals. He was to carry water by two large buckets to several lots. Charlie climbed over several fences many, many times to empty and refill the buckets only to take off to another animal lot! Earl had the well for the animals in the middle of the farm to help with getting water to all the animals. Charlie just did not know how many lots of thirsty animals there were! He said he was very, very tired when finished but he was determined to impress Betty’s father. He acted like it was no problem, but he began to admire Earl Harper that day. Charlie said he could hardly lift his arms the next day at home! That began the many stories Uncle Charlie and Aunt Betty would share with us about life at Poverty Acres.



Welcome Home Harper Family

Thanksgiving is a time we stop and thank God for helping us make it through another year at the Farm. Thank you God for your help, we are grateful.

Thanksgiving is also a time for Uncle Charlie’s stories about events on the farm. The farm is where Uncle Charlie began his courting of our late Aunt Betty. We are still much saddened by the sudden loss of Aunt Betty last fall.

Uncle Charlie grins, as he tells us about waking up very early in the morning, to the clogging sound of Grandma Harper’s shoes on the kitchen floor. She was already beginning to prepare what Uncle Charlie calls "The Feast".

After losing the larger part of the farm in the depression, many family members still traveled to the smaller farm for fellowship. The men would rise early and help Grandpa Earl do the chores and then go hunting. The pheasant and rabbits were the game of choice today.

The first success hunting got rushed back to Grandma Harper’s kitchen to be included in the big feast. At the end of the feast, he grins, almost everyone took a nap before returning to hunt again. Then they would help Grandpa Earl do chores again. The chores are a story we will leave for another day.

We are thankful we have been able to save the remaining part of the family farm. Many in the Carr and Harper family have worked hard to keep it alive. For it is home. Not just our home, but home to many family members who are now living all across the country.

At all times of the year it is about family. We are happy to say, " Welcome Home Harper Family, Welcome Home! Have a happy Thanksgiving and remember Tyler in your prayers. He is now in Texas learning to be an Army Medic.

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