More than once while I was listening to Paul Horel's stories about farm life in Iowa, I felt like I was at a family reunion.
With his glasses and balding head, mild Midwestern accent, and talk about plowing and politics, he could easily have been my uncle.
After all, Horel says his childhood was pretty typical for a kid growing up in the Midwest in the 1950s: he did chores in the morning and evening, spent long summer days playing in the fields, and attended a small country school. When he got older, he raised livestock for 4-H and helped his dad and brothers with the farming.
Yet in other ways, he wasn't your average farm kid.
“Unlike my brothers, I can't say that I enjoyed farm work,” Horel said. “I really was not very good at it. And I think partly because my mind seemed to be sort of elsewhere.”
But as Horel grew up and went to college, worked in education and then crop insurance, he started to appreciate the values he had learned as a kid on the farm. Taking care of livestock had taught him responsibility. Living far from the amusements of the city taught him to appreciate simple pleasures. He found, as fewer people grow up on the farm, those sorts of values become harder to teach.
You can read and listen to more of Horel’s story on the Harvest Public Media website. This is the 7th installment of HPM’s My Farm Roots series.