I had so much fun reading through all of the submissions for the First Annual Mike Dale Favorite Farmer photo shoot but there were two that really spoke to my heart this year. One of those was Millard.
Millards granddaughter nominated him. “I am nominating my grandpa Millard. My grandpa Millard and my grandma Betty live in Leonard, ND. They are 96 and 91 years old and still live in the house that my grandpa built for them and their 4 children years ago. when I was younger I would hear stories about how they lived in a basement while he was building this house for them. Over the years I’ve watched him, improve the siding, garden for my grandma and paint the inside to keep it updated. I have memories of sitting at the counter eating pancakes in the morning and then going for a ride on the lawnmower with my grandpa.”
The original date that we had planned to take photos got rained out. A few days after that I received an email from Millards granddaughter that her grandma Betty had a stroke and was in the hospital. My heart sunk as I kept reading that Betty would not return to the farm and that Millard would be moved off of the farm as well in a few days.
At that point there was nothing I could do about getting pictures of Betty and Millard together like I planned but I desperately wanted to still be able to give the family photos of Millard. These would be his last photos on the farm. He was getting moved out the next day.
When I first pulled up to the house, he was sitting outside watching us drive in. His granddaughter told me he was waiting for Betty to come home. Cue the tears.
It was all so familiar. MY grandma Betty also had health issues that caused the family to move her into assisted living while my grandpa sat at the farm waiting for her to come home. His dementia not allowing him to understand that she wasn’t coming home. We later had to also put my grandpa in assisted living with her.
While I was at Millards farm, his wife, Betty called from the hospital. This smile is for her. “You just tell me if you need me to get you and I will come get you, ok?”
I am so glad that I was able to meet Millard Justin and roam around his farm with him as he told me about Betty and their children. It was evident how much he loves her.
Of course we had to get some photos with his granddaughter. <3
An update from Millards granddaughter. “Betty still misses the farm. Millard is fine anywhere she is.”
Carter and Megan were married this past June in a fun little town called Hannaford, ND.
I love all the little details of a wedding. Especially when they have sentimental meaning behind them like this little prayer book that Megan’s great grandma, grandma and mom used at their weddings before her.The first look is always one of my favorite moments of a wedding day. How gorgeous is this barn?! Megan grew up just down the road from it and has many fond memories of playing in it.Megan’s brother was her “best man”. It was so cute the way that Carter’s mom would look at him throughout the day. She always had that “I can’t believe my baby is getting married!” look in her eyes.
Carter and Megan’s moms surprised them with this beautiful huge display next to their dance floor.It was a little chilly as the ceremony started. Clouds were hanging over head.It downpoured as the ceremony was wrapping up. Everyone scurried over to the big white tent for the reception across the park.
Ceremony and Reception: Hannaford Creek, Hannaford, ND
Bride and Bridesmaid Dresses: Your Day by Nicole
Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Halberstadts
Florist: Floret and Foliage
DJ: Marcus with Harmon Entertainment
Catering: Carnivore Catering
Cake/Desserts: Grand Hotel and Debbie Esslinger
At the end of my parents driveway in rural Buxton, ND sits a beautiful brick house with two of the sweetest people you will ever meet. I’ve known Arlen and Joanne my entire life but even before that, my family and their family were intertwined. Both of them can sit and tell me story upon story of working with my great grandparents on the same farm I grew up on. Infact, on a recent visit to their house, Arlen went out to one of his sheds and came back with a little metal stool that once used to belong to my great grandma, Annie. They both remember her sitting on that stool in the kitchen while peeling potatoes. That stool now sits next to my desk in my office.
For the past several years now I have kept saying that I needed to go take their photos. Arlen and Joanne have been constants in my life and have always done anything they could do help and love my family. I wanted photos for their kids and grandkids to cherish for years to come. This past October we made it happen! It was a pretty nice day to wander around their yard and when we were all done, we all agreed it would be fun to keep the shoot and the photos a secret until Christmas time. I just wish I could have been a fly on the wall as their kids and grandkids all opened their photo collages on Christmas!
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t narrow it down to just one winner this year! Millard and Bill were each chosen for a free photo shoot on their farm! Millard was nominated by his grand daughter and Bill by his daughter. Both of them wrote touching stories that made me cry but also reminded me so much of my family and what we have gone through the past few years with losing my grandpa and then my dad.
My dad made this goofy face where he would raise one eyebrow. As he got older, we would giggle over the fact that his skin now took longer to go back to “normal” after he would make it. He could do all sorts of weird faces and they would always make me laugh. I swear no one will ever be able to make me laugh like he did, whether it was because he was making yet another weird face, picking on mom or just being annoying in general. He made me laugh from deep down in my gut and at times he made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe or thought I would pee my pants. I miss laughing like that.
He used to always say “I am who I am and if you don’t like it then you can shove it up your ass crosswise.” I LOVED who he was. I loved that he said what he was thinking and didn’t care how it came across to others. I loved that he got a kick out of intimidating people by his big and scruffy exterior. I love even more that anyone who knew him, knew he wasn’t scary at all and had a giant heart. I loved that he would do anything for his girls, usually while grumbling about it so that we knew just how much of a “pain in the ass” we were. I love that he would go with my mom almost every single weekend to visit her mother in the nursing home. I love that he stepped in and did whatever he could to help while his brother was fighting for his life. And when I met my now husband, I love how my husband became my dad’s “son” and best friend.
I can think of a million reasons why I still need him here and not one as to why God had to take him when he did. This Saturday will be one year since his death and this week has been filled with tears, days of not wanting to see or talk to anyone and the heaviest heart knowing I can never wrap my arms around his neck again.
He wasn’t just my favorite farmer. He was my dad. There are only a few more days to nominate your favorite farmer. I’ve spent hours reading over all the submissions so far. Each story has made me cry or laugh and there have been so many that remind me of my own family. Nominate your Favorite Farmer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and telling me why he or she is your favorite farmer. The contest ends at midnight on December 1.