I am the newest or almost the newest blogger to this site so please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lois Hoffman. My husband Jim and I live on 37 acres in southwest Michigan. I grew up on a pig and grain farm about a mile from where we now live and Jim was raised on a dairy and grain farm in Pennsylvania. So, farming is in both of our bloods even though we cash rent our acreage out.
Jim is retired and loves to landscape. He’s the one who has the great ideas for our yard; I am his little elf who helps. I enjoy writing and photography and have been a freelance writer and photographer for over 20 years. Farm and rural life is my passion and is the basis for most of my material. We love to travel the back roads and in doing so we meet some pretty exciting people. That is why I am excited about sharing some of our experiences with GRIT and hope that you will enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy writing them. So, enough about us, let’s talk about the trail ride……
After the crops are planted in the spring and the spraying of early summer is done what do farmers do during the hot summer months and early fall while the corn and beans are growing? If you live near Williamsburg, Indiana, you have a little fun and keep tabs on your crops at the same time.
Williamsburg is a small town tucked between corn and soybean fields located roughly 20 miles southeast of Muncie, Indiana. Mark and Ron Hacker, who rent our ground, invited us to go on a “trail ride” of a different sort a while ago. Roughly 75 farmers, their wives, kids, friends and anyone else that was up for it brought their Polaris Rangers and a couple four-wheelers to boot and rode 20 miles of trails through fields, wooded areas and streams.
Indiana supports soil conservation so most every farmer has filter strips which are wide areas on the edge of fields that are left unplanted. It helps reduce soil erosion and chemical run-off in streams and rivers. In this case the strips provided the perfect trails to go from field to field.
It started six years ago on a hot Saturday afternoon when one farmer took his Ranger and checked on his own and his neighbors’ crops. Then the seed was planted, pardon the pun. Every year since it grew until this year there were 24 Rangers. Everyone brought coolers and snacks to tide them over for the five hours it took to complete the loop back to the starting point. Then everyone sat down to a potluck dinner followed by a bonfire.
The trail ride is just one luxury farmers in this area engage in. The area around Williamsburg is fortunate that the soil is heavy enough to hold moisture so there is little to no irrigation in the area. Consequently, farmers in the area have a little more free time than in other parts of the country; hence they have Clubhouse every Friday night at 7:00 pm sharp.
Two brothers put a ceiling, floor and bathroom in a corner of a barn. It comes complete with a refrigerator, microwave and pool table. Each week all year long farmers from the area stop what they are doing and come for an evening of eating, playing cards and general socializing. A couple nights each year they have “fry night” where the only food there is what comes out of a deep fryer. This can be anything from fish, mushrooms to dill pickles. I don’t think my stomach is up to that quite yet. However, it is refreshing to see so many men in one profession getting along and helping each other out. Maybe it’s a trend we all should start.
It is nice to see what folks in other parts of the country are doing. I just still have a hard time believing we drove 200 miles and four hours to go on a 20- mile ride. Ahh, we farmers are a strange breed.