Farming On Memory Lane

Patty Hanson's Dad loved sharing his Illinois farm with others—the Memory Lane Crafting Retreat carries on his legacy.

A view across the pond of the house and barn.

Patty hugs her beloved pet cow Blosom.

Friends painted these colorful barn quilt squares for visitors to admire and enjoy.

A charming sign welcomes guests to the farm.

The scenic lane leading to the farm.

Patty’s mare, Chic, grazes near her colt on a sunny day.

A view across the pond of the house and barn.Patty hugs her beloved pet cow Blosom.Friends painted these colorful barn quilt squares for visitors to admire and enjoy.A charming sign welcomes guests to the farm.The scenic lane leading to the farm.Patty’s mare, Chic, grazes near her colt on a sunny day.

 

My father, Gene Meads, purchased this 101-acre farm in 1989. It was rundown and neglected, but Dad had a vision of the beauty it could have. He set to work tearing down and restoring buildings, completely remodeling the house and making two overgrown ponds into one. He worked hard to accomplish his dream, and put his heart and soul into this farm.

My husband, Les, and I have three children, Laura, Michelle and Michael. We built our home on the property in 2000, and my dad and I began to work together running the farm. We raised heifers and corn, soybeans and hay. Of course I was basically the hired helper, but it was wonderful that we could share the time we did together.

In December 2010, my dad suffered a stroke and was gone within three days. It was such a shock, as he was the hardest-working 75-year-old I had ever seen. We had worked together that whole day, never imagining it was the last day of life as we knew it.

Knowing what the farm meant to him, and having lived here for 10 years, it was a no-brainer that I would carry on with the farm. Dad had already contracted crops for 2011, and those obligations needed to be fulfilled. I really wished I had paid more attention to the details of running the farm. I was determined to not only run the place, but also make it succeed.

Luckily I have great neighbors and friends who helped me, showing me how to do everything from running the hay mower and manure spreader to telling me what was needed to produce a crop to sell in the fall. Les works in the computer technology field. He helps out on weekends, and does a great job with the mowing and otherwise keeping the farm looking nice.

I am very grateful to be part of a small farming community where the people truly care for each other. I know my dad would be overwhelmed by the generous assistance and support I have received from his friends.

I remember the scary feeling going into that first spring, wondering how I would ever pull this off. I have learned a lot—and still have lots to learn, I know—but now instead of being afraid, I am actually excited to face a new growing year. If I could survive the drought in 2012, I think I can make it through anything.

I have been told I should just rent the land and not have the worries, but I enjoy applying what I’ve learned. A little confidence sure makes a difference!

It was hard to decide what to do with Dad’s house. Since I was on the place every day, running the farm, it was hard to imagine renting it and having no access to it. My dad loved entertaining and sharing his beautiful farm with others, and I decided to follow his example.

In December 2011, I opened Memory Lane Crafting Retreat. It is a girls’ getaway, where women get together to craft and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Quilters, scrapbookers, stampers and church groups have stayed here. The crafting room overlooks a picturesque pond and beautiful rolling hills.

Everyone loves the beauty and peacefulness the farm has to offer. I have found our guests are intrigued by what goes on at the farm, whether it’s haying, spring planting, fall harvesting, or anxiously awaiting the birth of a foal.

A favorite attraction on the farm is our huge, friendly pet cow, Blosom. My guests love her. She has become the ambassador of the farm and likes to have her chin scratched and ears rubbed.

Blosom has lived here from the time she was a calf but could never have a calf of her own. She was special from the day she came to the farm, always loving people.

The Journal Standard, the local newspaper, recently wrote a story about Blosom, and the Associated Press picked it up. Now she’s been featured in newspapers all over the world. My daughter Michelle and I are also writing a children’s book about her. Blosom even has a Facebook page!

While the crafting retreat was my idea, my dad gets all the credit for the way the farm looks. It was far from the prettiest place in the country when he started. I am just maintaining it as his legacy, continuing his love of sharing it with others.

Now that I own the place, I understand the pride that comes from caring for something that holds a special place in your heart and soul.

Terrie 1 July 3, 2015 at 12:36 pm

People helping people is what built this country, not the “rugged” individualist.

Unfortunately, the politics of the day focus on individualism rather than community. It’s too bad we can’t all have the experience of living in such a community.

Reply

Helen 2 July 3, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Dear Ms Hanson,
Your story is just wonderful and well told. Your tribute to your beloved Dad provides inspiration to all of us at a time when much is needed. As an avid knitter, beader etc I am downright envious of those who live in your area who can attend the seminars. You are the consummate entrepreneur… Thanks so much for sharing this with us,,,, it surely gave me some food for the soul SMILE Helen

Reply

Bev 3 July 3, 2015 at 4:40 pm

What a beautiful story and great legacy for your Dad. I so enjoyed reading about
the farm and Blosom. May the farm continue to produce and may God grant his
bounty upon you.

Reply

Carol Loye 4 July 3, 2015 at 7:08 pm

I so enjoyed your story. I grew up on a 400 acre farm in Minnesota. Hold your wonderful memories close. I’m sur your Dad is so proud of you and is still walking with you as you do our chores.

Reply

renee cariglia 5 July 3, 2015 at 9:34 pm

Patty Hanson and Blosom truly live on a slice of Heaven! Renée Cariglia

Reply

Margaret 6 July 4, 2015 at 3:29 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I am very sorry for your loss, good parents are such a blessing and that makes the loss all the worse. My husband had a stroke in 2009 and has been wheelchair bound ever since. I am lucky still to have him. all the best..Margaret

Reply

Lauri Palmer 7 July 4, 2015 at 7:29 am

Where in Orangeville, IL is Patty’s Farm? My family and I like to go on scrap booking retreats and we are always looking for a new place to go. I would like to contact her and get her information. Thank you.

Reply

Patty Meads-Hanson 8 July 7, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Hi Lauri, Memory Lane Crafting Retreat is located 4 miles west of Orangeville. You can find information about the retreats at http://www.memorylanecraftingretreat.com. I’d love to welcome your group to the farm!
Thank you!

Reply

Jeanette Martz 9 July 4, 2015 at 7:52 am

What a beautiful story. I admire Patty the courage to take over the reins of the farm(no small task) and the vision To start Memory crafting Lane! I grew up on a farm and remember the hard work, but also the wonderful family times.

Reply

Patty Meads-Hanson 10 July 7, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Thank you for sharing the story of Memory Lane Crafting Retreat! And for all the wonderful comments from those that read it! I have loved sharing the farm with others, and letting them learn what life is like on a farm. Since opening Memory Lane Crafting Retreat, I have met the nicest ladies, that have truly become my friends. Since this was written a while ago, so much has happened with Blosom, especially when she was officially named by Guinness World Records as the Tallest Cow in the World. The world seemed to fall in love with her. Unfortunately, 6 weeks ago, I had to make that horrible decision no one that loves animals wants to do. I found her in her favorite pasture, and she couldn’t get up. My wonderful vets, husband, and I worked in the pouring rain that day, and tried everything we could to get her to stand. Since our skid loader wasn’t heavy enough to lift her with a hip lift, a friend came with his big loader tractor to try to help her. I had hoped when she got up, things would be fine. However, her rear left leg had been under her in a position that isn’t normal. When she was lifted, she couldn’t bear weight on that leg. We believe she injured a ligament while trying to lay down, slipping in the mud. Since she couldn’t stand, there wasn’t anything else to do but what was the best for her. It was the hardest thing Ive ever done, but I did it because I loved her and didn’t want her to suffer. The support Ive received since losing my best friend has been a comfort. I miss her every day, and I miss sharing her with my guests. I hope to make a memorial to her here at the farm so people can someday still realize how tall she really was. Guinness has given her a second world record, as the Tallest Cow Ever, and PETA has added a gold leaf in her name to their memorial, The Tree of Life in Norfolk, VA. She will be featured in the 2016 Guinness World Record Book, set for release on Sept 10th. I still post pictures on her facebook page, and my book, Everyone Loves Blosom will be available by the end of the year. Memory Lane also has a facebook, with tons of pictures of the farm. Thank you!!!

Reply

Leave a Comment