This is a story about a blogger named Linda Brown, who posts her observations daily at "Life on a Colorado Farm." And since the farmer featured in her blog is her husband Terry, this story is about him as well, not to mention Fuzzy and Boomer, the farm dogs who have their say every Friday.
Linda and Terry live west of Delta on California Mesa, on the homestead farmed by Terry's father and grandfather. The house they occupy was ordered through the mail; the components arrived in Delta on a train.
Terry's grandfather was a dairy farmer and delivered whole milk in the days before it had to be pasteurized and homogenized. In fact, that's how he met his wife, who kept her eye out for the handsome milkman.
Terry's granddad helped his kids get a start on their own farms. Terry's uncle branched out into beef cattle, while Terry's dad took the dairy farm and moved to a nearby location, where Terry grew up. When his granddad died and the original homestead came up for sale, Terry and Linda purchased the house and 80 acres from the estate. Terry was employed by Delta-Montrose Electric Association for 37 years, so he's never been a full-time farmer. Instead, farming was an enjoyable release. Raised on a farm, Terry says he has dirt in his veins. "I have to stir it up, I guess you'd say." Now retired, at least from DMEA, he raises corn, pinto beans and a little bit of hay.
Both Terry and Linda love the country lifestyle. When farmground began getting carved into subdivisions, Linda started her blog to preserve that way of life.
According to Wikipedia, the word blog is a contraction of the words web and log. Bloggers post comments on a wide range of topics, from cooking to reincarnation, frequently generating comments from their readers.
"I started the blog as a documentary on what farming is," Linda says. "I showed plowing and discing and marking out ... it was pretty pathetic at first."
The date was March 22, 2007. Since then, Linda has written over 1,600 entries, all of which are archived in the blog.
Through her host, wordpress.com, Linda can identify where each click on her blog originated.
"I have readers from France, Italy, Canada
... people who are fascinated with farming itself."
Linda was introduced to blogging when she worked at Delta-Montrose Technical College. Sheryl Williams, a horticulture instructor at the college, had started a blog on wildflowers and she suggested they do something on the college. Then Linda decided to start one for herself. While the DMTC blog is offline, Linda is still going strong, adding comments every day but Saturday.
Linda gave some thought to giving up the blog whenshe retired from Delta-Montrose Technical College three years ago, but her readers urged her to keep it up.
"Most people are amazed how involved farming is," Linda said. Even other farmers are fascinated about the irrigation process used in western Colorado.
"The other thing that's neat about our operation is that Terry uses antiques, or collectible, farm equipment — a 1959 tractor and a combine that's about the same year. People email, 'Why are you still using that?' and I'll reply, 'Because it's paid for.'"
Terry actually has what they jokingly refer to as a"herd" of combines — one for corn, one for pinto beans and a couple just for parts. Regardless, they make great pictures, which Linda realized early on made her blog much more interesting.
She carries a camera just about everywhere she goes. Since Terry is the farmer, and Linda is the helper, the camera is often pointed at him — even if he's not in the mood to stop and pose. If he's had a flat tire on the combine or is struggling with a piece of machinery, he's been known to turn to Linda and say, "Put that damn thing away!"
"I do have a private life," he says.
"But people like to see that kind of stuff," Linda rejoins.
When Terry isn't planting, discing or irrigating the crops, Linda talks about the grandkids' activities, family outings ... even an interesting anthill she came across on the farm. But all writers eventually run out of things to say, and when that happened to Linda, the dogs jumped in with their own viewpoint on farm life. Every Friday their "mom" helps them write "Adventures with Boomer and Fuzzy."
"I have a lot of people who just want to hear about the dogs," Linda says. "I have more hits on Fridays with Boomer and Fuzzy than the other days."
But mostly, Linda says, her blog is "of the land."
This time of year, understandably, Terry spends a lot of time moving the water around to make sure the corn, beans and hay don't wilt under the hot summer sun. Even farmers from other parts of the country are fascinated with how Terry gets water to his crops.
"Our way of farming is unique because we irrigate with water from a reservoir that's miles and miles away," Linda explains. "People think we use up all the water and it's gone. Well it is when you use a sprinkling system because it just soaks into the ground, but here the water comes down a ditch, goes into a canal and through the fields. It leaves your place and goes back into the canal and goes to another farm. A lot of people on our canal have the water before we ever get it."
A recent entry explained how Terry and Linda make siphon tubes. In fact, Linda has lined out the seven steps involved in irrigation.
Linda makes a point of emailing every person who makes a comment on an entry. "You might read my blog and make a comment," she says. "Then your life goes on and you might not get back to the blog. If you don't subscribe to the comment feed, you don't know that I answered you."
Between making her morning observations and responding to 21 to 23 comments every day, Linda says she spends up to three hours at her computer.
Asked about the silliest comment she's ever heard, she says, "They're not really stupid questions. Some people are just unexposed, I'd guess you say."
After several entries on the trouble they were having with coyotes, one of those "unexposed" readers wrote, "If you would feed the coyotes I'm sure they would leave you alone."
Linda pulls up a map that shows her blog has had 125,695 views in the past 2 1/2 years. A total of 236 people follow the blog all the time.
Over the years, several of her consistent followers have become friends. With a select few, she has exchanged telephone calls and visits.
"People tell me I ought to put all this in a book, but I wouldn't know how to go about that," Linda says.
On a less frequent basis, Linda also puts together a blog for the Delta Museum. The blog is not the result of Linda's writing but a compilation of newsletter articles and newspaper accounts from the Delta County Independent and its predecessors.
"I have some very dedicated followers on that blog, but I don't get a lot of comments unless I make a mistake," Linda says.
She occasionally gets some very "nasty" responses when she refers to Delta's early history, when the Utes were kicked off the land. "I don't put those responses on the blog," Linda says, "but I write them back personally and tell them I understand how they feel but I can't change history. Yes, the Indians were treated poorly but I can't do anything about it. I try to do it nicely."
The museum blog went "live" on Dec. 20, 2010. Since then, it's had 14,208 hits — a statistic that pleases museum director Jim Wetzel. "We're delighted Linda has taken this on for the museum," Jim says. "We talk to people frequently who have looked at it, so it is effective."
Life on a Colorado Farm can be found at http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com; the museum blog is at http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com.blog comments powered by Disqus