Farm Graduate

This week we bid farewell to our senior farm employee, our daughter Panka. The first picture above shows her in the spring of 2004, when she was just beginning to consider work on our farm. The second picture shows her on the eve of going off to college, after much farmwork – sometimes enjoyed and sometimes endured. She’s witnessed many changes here in the past seventeen years: farmworkers, tractors, and buildings have come and gone, and we’ve transitioned from growing vegetables to growing fruit. At UW-Madison, she’s hoping to study computer science and pursue her non-farming talents and interests. As she leaves, we’d like to acknowledge her contributions to the farm.

Panka rarely shirked a task (although we have heard afterwards of several she disliked!). Responsible and reliable from an early age, she could be entrusted with independent and complex work, whether operating a vacuum seeder to plant vegetable seeds in the greenhouse, scouting our orchard for a myriad of insect pests, or shepherding her beloved younger siblings (who were sometimes perhaps less interested in farmwork and possibly frustrating to a perfectionist!) She enjoyed the company of those older than herself, and as an early adolescent she was proud and happy to work alongside the crew of farm workers. Handy manual work of all sorts interested her, and she was often found watching and helping her Dad during evening repairs to farm machinery. She is a full-fledged apple lover and is intimately familiar with the peculiarities and flavors of our many varieties.

The life of the farm we are blessed to inhabit has been a foundation of Panka’s childhood. She’s tended our household flock of laying hens from an early age and proudly showed her prize hen at the village and county fairs. A keen observer, she was intimately familiar with the coming and goings of birds, the ripening of the wild raspberries, and the dusty contents of our cobwebbed barns. When she was younger, we’d often hear her voice on summer afternoons from the wild mulberry tree in the fenceline, as she coached her younger brother on how to climb the tree (one must avoid the racoon poo trapped in the crotches of the branches) and they perched in the canopy eating ripe berries. And throughout high school she tramped along the fenceline on the perimeter of the farm in evenings after supper, in summer sunshine and winter darkness, thinking her thoughts, and always followed faithfully by the farm dog.

With love, gratitude, sadness and excitement, we watch her leave and look forward to her future adventures and accomplishments.