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HISTORY PASSING: Fifth Generation by Jess Eberle

Reposted from June 2020

Growing up on my family farm is something I never gave much thought to. Largely because it is all that I have ever known. Looking inwardly, I am very much a product of my farm and rural surroundings. I lived on our farm more or less my whole life, and many memories come to mind when thinking back on the multiple aspects of my life on the farm.

Family is what truly made farm life something I will never regret. The importance of family on our farm was a top priority, and it is something I can hopefully simulate whenever I happen to start my own. My brother and I were particularly fortunate because our grandparents' home was no more than three hundred feet away. I could always flee the dictatorship of the tyrannical parents to the welcoming arms of my grandma and then cross back over the border to our house later that evening when I felt like I needed to or when the tyrannical parents said so. I am only kidding of course, because life at our house was hunky-dory. This dual living is not specific to farms, but I believe it created an exceptional experience. We all saw each other the next day at work, and it made us a closer-knit team.

I always valued the sequestered and secluded feeling of living on a farm, and I can remember feeling proudly independent from my urban living classmates. At a younger age, it felt as if we were true mavericks, capable of living independently while at the same time providing for the townspeople. This seems like a boastingly superior viewpoint, but not that I have grown older, my viewpoints have been tweaked.

The farm work was a little hit-and-miss for me. Specifically, the operating on of farm equipment was not my strong point. This was mostly because I never had a yearning interest in it. The farm work I did enjoy was working and being around cattle, which is not to say I was any more help around them. Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching them, fantasizing they would maliciously charge at any given second and at the same time really hoping they would not. What I really enjoy about farm life is the indirect aspects associated with it: the creek, the pastures, the wildlife, the night sky, and the hidden feeling of being away or even separated from the rest of the world. The rural life seemed like a breeding ground for many childhood fantasies of far-off places that possibly represented the blank spots on the map (which sadly don't exist anymore).

Ironically enough, the latter aspect of being apart from the rest of the world is what ultimately led me to set myself on my present path. I have always been intrigued by what nature offers in these far-off exotic places, where wild things lurk placidly amongst the unfamiliar flora backdrop. These far-off places seemed like alien planets instead of different locations on the Earth, which was the same to me since I had not been to either one.

I have decided that I want to see and experience as much of the mysterious natural phenomena the Earth has to offer. This urge for adventure and knowledge of the unknown is what guided me to study the science of all life and I am permanently hooked. I am currently majoring in marine biology with a minor in environmental studies at a small liberal arts college in South Kansas. I full-heartedly intend to getting my master's in marine behavioral ecology and my Ph. D in biology. After completion, I hope to teach at the college or university level while running my own independent research lab.

My passion in life, which was stimulated by the farm, led me to realize that I will not live on our farm and continue its legacy within our family. I see the farm as something that shepherded me into my current interests which paradoxically moves me away from farm life. The farm's work will always be something I respect, and I will always call the farm my home wherever I may be. Sadly, the family life that glued the farm together is soon to inevitably tear it apart. My brother and I are the last two left of a long line that runs deep into the past, and it seems as though we will mournfully sever that already thinning line. This does create a strong sense of guilt in me, but nonetheless, the guilt I must swallow and go on with a better aftertaste in my mouth. On the other hand, I do have to say that only an ignorant man says "never" without realizing never is a long time. Maybe when my adventurous and knowledge-hungry appetite is finally satiated I will peek in on the farm and see how she is doing.

- Jess Ryan Eberle


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