For Caleb, farm ponds have remained a focal point of childhood memories, family outings, and first-time writing assignments.
I remember the first article I ever wrote for GRIT. It took me a while to work up the nerve, but eventually I pitched the article idea to then Editor-in-Chief Hank Will, now Editorial Director of all of our magazines, and he liked the idea; he seemed excited.
The basic idea was farm-pond management.
You could write a book on the topic, but in order to keep the article to a manageable focus, I zeroed in on a few tips that rural property owners can implement to optimize their resource. A main piece of the puzzle is not letting cattle and other livestock have open access. I still remember on our farm growing up, during the heat of summer, there were a few pasture ponds where cattle would always be waded out into the water, and occasionally you'd see evidence of critters perishing.
The idea of restricting access involves piping water through a bank to a stock tank or secondary reservoir so that the livestock can use the pond as a water source but not have full access to do damage to the banks and to the pond in general.
Anyways, it was a fun article to research, report on, and write. I remember calling Herschel George, a watershed specialist for Kansas State University, and gaining his insights.
But my favorite part about writing the article was the intro, a simple "anecdotal lead" we call them, in which I simply told the brief story about our family farm pond. It stirred memories of summertime days with my brothers, wrestling on the banks, fishing, shooting snapping turtles even, and catching our share of crappie and largemouth bass. But even more than the fish we caught, I remember those times with my brothers, and it makes me grateful for having siblings.
As my wife and I embark on trying to raising two young men of our own, I've thought often about the example I will be showing my sons for how they should treat one another. My brothers, along with my wife and other family members, mean the world to me. At most every important turn in life, good or bad, my brothers have had my back, and I've had theirs. We have run-ins, differences of opinion, and sometimes we don't see eye to eye. At times, I've been a terrible brother. But there's no one else in the world you can count on like a sibling, and I'm so grateful to have them. I'm also grateful to have been blessed with multiple children, so that they might know that same blessing of brotherhood and siblinghood.
And I strive to one day be able to turn our children loose, hopefully to a family farm pond on a small property, for them to go test the limits of their capabilities and even do a little wrestling if need be.
What about you? In your family, was there a sacred space in the outdoors where family gathered when the weather was nice? I'd love to hear about them. Send us a note, with a photo if you have it, to email@example.com.
For me, it was the family farm pond and the "Motherland," where we rode horses and went looking for deer. And I'll continue to strive to have a space like that for our family.
Until next time,
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