RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
The Traditions (Heritage) of Plain View Farm,
by Ron Ginther,
Grandson of Alfred & Bergit Stadem
I don't know if Robert Frost's famed New England poem about fences making good neighbors was ever read by anyone on the farm, though they might have heard someone recite a line or two, as it was very popular in America for many years. But I know that my Grandpa Alfred Stadem, called Papa by his children, knew how to be a good neighbor, he kept up his fences to keep his stock from roaming onto neighbors' properties and causing problems there in the crops, and also to keep his own fields from being damaged if someone's stock got out. Fences were always needing inspection and often repairs on the spot, if possible. Grandpa was known to sometimes use his teeth to cut a wire so he could use part of it to mend a hole in the fence. He couldn't always run back to the farm sheds or barn for the proper tools, so he made do with his strong, Viking teeth. That was how he valued being a good neighbor who kept up his fencing, his teeth were less important to him! Not recommended, of course, by dentists, it was what he chose to do in the circumstances, because he couldn't take the time to go for a tool or there was no way to do it later even, since farmers have to do things when needed, otherwise it would have to be left undone due to the press of having to get a harvest in before a rain, or some such calamity.
But what about even more important things that need upholding and bolstering and steadfast work and maintenance to keep life on the right track and the family headed straight towards its goals?
Traditions can be seen as important ways that people, over generations, manage their lives in the best and most godly way they have found, by long experience, and in accordance with God's Word, necessary to uphold and practice.
The Webster's II definition is: 1. Transmittal of elements of a culture of one generation to another, especially by oral communication 2. A set of customs and usages transmitted from one generation to another and viewed as a coherent body of precedents influencing the present = heritage; 3. A time-honored practice or set of such practices.
That is the technical definition, but I want to picture it more organically if I may, for traditions are organic in essence, not technical definitions however correct. Traditions can be seen as: a fence, a river, a tree, a seed.
We have already looked at a fence and the reasons for it and the necessity to keep it up and repaired, so we can go on to the next portrayal or picture.
A Tradition is like a river, it starts from a source, a spring usually, or ground water come out from below the surface of the earth, and it begins to flow somewhere due to gravity and the slope of the land. It creates a channel, small at first, but deeper and deeper, if more water joins the little stream. The river develops when the stream become s a brook and its channel draws the waters of other streams. It only does this over time, over much time usually, though sometimes in deserts when rain falls sporadically, a river may develop from a tiny stream to a big river in a matter of mere minutes as the water collects in a channel and bursts across the land, tumbling boulders before it.
Traditions are more sedate, usually, and not so violent as freshets in the desert, which are ephemeral and not so lasting, as they usually are quick to run out of water and then end in pools which evaporate or sink into the sands in a short time. More slow forming traditions, however, can last over generations, even hundreds of years, if they are found to be life-enhancing and worthwhile perpetuating. We see traditions in our National Holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, and Mother's Day, Christmas and Easter, which are perpetuated because people in a traditionally Christian nation such as this value what they stand for, and their families enjoy them and want to participate in them, year after year. They hardly ever run out of "water", unlike flash-in-the-pan, thunderburst-caused rivers in deserts.
We had a number of traditions in Norway, some carried over to our Plain View Farm, most did not. We took on new traditions here also, not known in Old Norway's society. But to the next organic way of looking at tradition.
Trees are complex and need roots and trunk and branches, and the ability to produce leaves and maintain itself in storms and not be blown over or suffer and also offer some resistance to insect infestations and damage by extreme weathers and also be able to regrow torn off branches or browsed leaves. Trees can do all these things normally to survive and flourish. But they must have adequate water supplies, which their roots seek and find, and also the nutrients in the soil necessary for a healthy tree's growth. Some trees produce fruit, others produce seeds. Others are shade trees, mainly greenry, evergreen or deciduous. The maple tree even produces a sap that can be boiled down, as you know, to make a delicious syrup. Trees are really necessary, to keep water in the soil, to furnish wood for people to burn for heat, to use for building material, and to gather fruit from if they are the fruit-bearing type. Some trees produce potable water in deserts over in Africa, and habitats for all kinds of animals and birds. Some ant species farm a particular tree, and protect it against all sorts of gnawing predators (again in hot countries). The diversity of trees is incredible, just as the diversity of traditions is beyond number. But what traditions are best for us, that is a question to take up a little later. But one more organic picture of tradition.
To make a plant a seed must go into the ground, though some seeds sprout above ground, either as epiphytes (which grow in little more than a cleft in the tree trunk or on the mossy bark itself in tropical forests). Normally, seeds must be germinate in the ground, then they have a chance to develop root systems that will support the stem of the plant as it reaches up through the soil to the surface to begin the process of maturation to a full-grown plant. Farmers knows exactly how deep seeds for crops should go and set their planting machinery accordingly, if they don't do seeding or sowing by hand using the broadcast system. The thing that matters to a tradition is that it is like a seed that does not start on the surface, no, it starts below in the soil, and the soil must be prepared and also fertile or fertilized enough to help the germinated seed produce a healthy plant when it matures. The weather must also be good enough, and the water supply sufficient, but not too abundant that the plant is drowned or loses vital oxygen necessary to its life processes and the extraction of nutrients from the soil.
Most everyone could define tradition better than I can, but please bear these organic portrayals in mind as we illustrate the technical definition with specific traditions that developed and were nurtured on Plain View Farm over the course of many years.
Plain View Farm came into existence about 1918-1919, but the family started in Canton, where some of the children were born to Alfred and Bergit Stadem, who married in 1908 in Canton Lutheran Church, with Pastor Tetlie doing the marrying. Pastor Tetlie also arranged for Alfred and Bergit to begin their life together on a farm of his. Pearl and other daughters were born there. In time as years passed, Alfred and Bergit found resources gained by hard work and bought property from Martin Berent Stadem and moved to it. That property was their farm, which came to be named Plain View Farm, which name was emblazoned on the red barn in big white letters across the side of it facing the rural road.
The Stadems brought a number of traditions with them that they highly valued. They practiced them faithfully on their farm. Their daughters and sons also came to value them as they were practiced by them and their parents over the years. What were they?
1. Love for the God of the Bible as our Highest Authority and Most Worthy of our Worship and our Obedience, and lives lived, in consequence, with Haugean Spirit, Heart Fervor & Genuine Humility (Gained by Self-denial daily and dependence on the Grace and Mercy of Christ, not our own merit or righteous deeds);
2. Hospitality (no partiality shown);
3. Pioneer values, thrift & frugality, plainness and unostentatious modesty in life style;
4. Keeping the Sabbath holy;
5. Church as the Primary Spiritual and Social Body, Christ as Personal Savior and Head of the Church, the Only Source of Salvation and Redemption for all us Sinners;
6. The Gospel Preached and Shared, in the Home, at Church, in the Community, in Missions Abroad;
7. The Bible Revered as God's Word, Read, Practiced, Obeyed in the Home and Family;
8. Christian Education Supported;
9. Hard Work Not Shirked;
10. Family, Biblical Morality, Biblical Marriage Upheld;
11. Aid to the Poor, Disadvantaged, Without Partiality;
12. Honesty and Truthfulness and Fair Dealing Always;
13. Love of Country, Good Citizenship;
14. Prayer, Bible Reading and Devotions in the Home, the Teaching of the Children by the Parents how to Be Godly, Obedient, and Loving, Fellowship with Other Christians;
15. Servanthood (greatest thing Christ said he came to teach his disciples by His example!)