A Morning Walk
In My Upland
(Part 3)

Dateline: 17 August 2016

I have been walking the road in my Upland, telling you about this place, and my history in it. In Part 2 I walked to the one-mile point. Now I will head back home...

The picture above shows the "wildcat field" on the right. When I get to the woodland up on the right, after the field, this is what I see off to my left...

I'm walking in shade now because the morning sun is still low in the east. There is a nice pond on the left. We call it "Donny's Pond." Wendell Hatfield dug that pond maybe 25 years ago. Wendell's got the biggest Cat dozer around.

Art's Brother, Donny, was running the farm back then. He talked about maybe having a campground in the field above the pond, and charging folks by the inch for fish they caught. In another smaller pond out of sight down over the hill, he talked about maybe raising bullfrogs as a business enterprise. But it was all just talk.

My sons grew up fishing and swimming in that pond. I seem to recall them once riding their bikes up ramps into the pond too.

Here's kind of a rare sight on my morning walk...

I can often take my half-hour walk in Upland and never have a motor vehicle drive by. That being the case, I often walk right down the middle of the road. But on this particular morning, that vehicle passed by. There is a peacefulness to this place. You can hear a car or truck coming in plenty of time to get off to the side.

Here's my view when I get past the pond, and the woods on the right come to an end...

I remember Art's stepfather, Marco Lanzoni, an old Italian man, walking out in that field and calling to his Hereford beefers. Art's father had died when he was young. His mother married the older Marco. 

As a teenager, Art had a lot of respect for Marco. That doesn't often happen with stepfathers, especially when kids are in their teen years. But Marco was a rare individual. Everyone liked and respected him. 

Marco was a licensed land surveyor and he taught Art how to be a surveyor. Art knew how to survey and hand-draw the survey maps by the time he got out of high school. I actually went out on a couple survey jobs with Art and held the big plumb bob on a gammon reel while he sighted in with his survey transit. There was no GPS, no laser transits, and no cell phones to communicate over the long distances. It was the old days.

Art went on to college so he could get the education needed to be a licensed surveyor. And that was his career, until the cancer got him. 

Here's a picture of what I see as I get closer to the  house and barns...

And here is the view I have as I crest the hill...

Phil Murphy's son lives in that house on the left. Phil's place (which Marlene and I now own) is directly across the street, sheltered by big pine trees. Our field is up behind the house...

That's a picture of our field, and the woods beyond are ours too. In the few short years we've owned the field I've made a lot of memories there. I've started a small orchard up near the top. We attempted to have a pond dug in the field last year, but that was a fiasco.  There is plenty of water up there, but there is also solid rock under the field, about six feet down.

When I pass our house my son's dog gets all excited to see me. He is anticipating me coming over to see him. I've just told him to "sit."

This is my view down the road as I walk past the two houses...

The willow trees arching over the road are growing out of a creek. The creek runs behind our house, all the way down through our woods, and under the road here. The water eventually makes its way into Owasco Lake.

Straight ahead is the old Defendorf place, which I told you about in Part 2 of this series. I'll take the bend in the road to the right.

But first, here's a look down into the creek from the road...

Once I round the bend in the road, it's all uphill to my house...

In the distance to the left in the picture you can see some tall pines. They are around an old cemetery. Marlene and I have bought our plots in that cemetery. A person standing at our graves someday should be able to look across the field and see our house. Someday I'll show you the cemetery. 

Once I get past the woods to my right, our house is right there...

The house is nothing fancy. Marlene and I built it ourselves, with occasional help from many different friends. As I explain in my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian, we saved to buy the 1.5 acre piece of land for cash shortly after we were married. Then we borrowed $10,000 from Marlene's dad to build the house. We have never had a bank mortgage.

The field directly across from our house (now planted to soybeans) is owned by a neighbor up the road. Years ago, the neighbor asked if I wanted to buy the field. I sure did. But it was unthinkable at the time. My finances were  slim and my future prospects didn't look good. I wasn't about to go to a bank for a loan. And Marlene's father had passed on by then.

So that opportunity passed. We thought the neighbor would section the field off and sell it for building lots, but it didn't happen, and we're thankful for that. We like our privacy here in Upland. 

I could just as easily have taken my morning walk a mile up the road instead of down, and recounted memories of people and places along that way. Or I could hike across the fields in any direction and do the same. But I won't do that. You get the idea.

In my Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian book I have a chapter in which I share several excerpts from my my son Robert's daily Journal when he was 14 years old. It provides a glimpse into the life of a boy in this rural Upland. 

With no television and no video games in our home, my three sons explored and adventured daily in the natural world of this Upland. They were also homeschooled, so they had more time than other kids to do their exploring and adventuring. They have a lot of great childhood memories in this place. 

On this particular morning, as I returned from my walk and was on the road in front of my house, about to walk into the driveway, Marlene saw me from the kitchen window. She was at the sink. And she said to me...

"Hi Handsome. I have a glass of juice here for you."

Now, my wife does not say that to me every morning when I return from my walk, but on this morning she did. And I can tell you it made me feel good. 

There is a verse in the Bible (Proverbs 18:22) that says: "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord." That has certainly been my experience. My Upland would not be as special as it is without my Marlene. 

As I walk into the driveway and look to my left, there is my garden. Approximately half of the available open surface land on this little lot is garden. 

When I get into the house, I walk through and out onto the back patio. Marlene and her older sister (visiting from Arizona) are working at getting some beans from the garden ready to can...

And there is my glass of juice, ready for me. Fresh carrot, cucumber, chard and a-bunch-of-other-good-things...

So that concludes my morning walk in Upland. I have given you a glimpse into my world. Thank you for coming along.


  1. Hey Herrick- what is your plan for the several acres (16, right?) you and Marlene own? Maybe a milk cow? A milk goat or three?

    1. Well, our thought was to build a retirement home in the lower part of the field, along with a building to accommodate my Planet Whizbang business, then expand my gardening and animal-raising pursuits on the abundance of surrounding land. But the lower part of the field is just too wet to build on and putting a long driveway up to the dry land is surprisingly expensive. So we're kind of at a standstill until we save more $ and/or come up with another viable solution. It is hard to properly care for gardens and animals when you have to travel a distance to get to them. I've learned this with my apple orchard on the new land, and when we raised a couple of pigs there last year. Thanks for asking.

  2. All I can say is.....thank you.....everything is so beautiful. I enjoyed "our" walk.

    1. Thank You, Roxy. It was nice of you to come along. :-)

  3. Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
    It looks so beautiful! What a fantastic time and place to commune with the Lord each morning. I hope few people ever find this place, so you can keep the quietness, and your peace with the Lord.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Agreed. What I don't show is that after the Buckley barn, shortly past the end of my walk, there are a lot of houses on down the rest of the road. Many more than when I was in high school 40 years ago. To have a stretch of paved road with no houses for 3/4 of a mile is relatively rare around here. I'm afraid that, in time, the old Murphy farm will be sold and the land developed. Hopefully not any time soon.

  4. Hi Herrick, All those views you showed ,were what this place looked like 45-50 years ago. Only we didn't have many trees. The Island had been clearcut about 200+ years ago for houses barns and firewood. Then all the peat got dug out of the ponds and by then came the advent of coal and the slippery road to perdition!(oil-gas). Looks like a beautiful place to live! Best Everett