Inspirational story how a city bride learned to love country living at her husband’s century-old heritage farm.
Story by Angela Oelschlaeger
We met at a church gathering in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was a city girl from Pearl, Mississippi. He was a good ol’ Kansas farm boy.
Even though we lived 800 miles apart, we wrote, talked on the phone and got together when we could. I had laid eyes on Mike a grand total of 23 times when he asked me to marry him.
I knew a good thing when I saw it, though, and a few months later, I was standing at the altar repeating “for better or for worse.” Looking back, the vows should have been “for city life or for country life.”
When we got married, I knew nothing about farming or country life. I’d never sat on a hay bale, let alone a tractor. So I was utterly unprepared for the culture shock of moving to a heritage farm house in The Middle of Nowhere, Kansas.
Mike’s great-grandfather built this house in 1890 on land his father had purchased for $3 an acre in 1869. Mike’s grandfather eventually bought the place for $1, with the stipulation that one-third of the farm’s profits would go to help his aging parents. (Farming didn’t offer much of a retirement plan…and it still doesn’t!)
Mike’s aunt Anna Louise recalls that everyone called the Oelschlaeger heritage farm “the castle” because it was the largest house from here to Kansas City. Almost everyone who ever lived in Tonganoxie has been a guest here at one time or another.
The heritage farm and house had a lot of history—a little too much for this young bride from the city. There was no electricity upstairs. The washing machine was an ancient tub and wringer contraption, and the clothes dryer was several lengths of rope swaying on posts in the yard.
We had a party line phone, which I’d never even heard of. And we were on well water, so Mike warned me there’d be no more long showers. And there wasn’t another house as far as the eye could see.
Little by little, though, I began to get the hang of country life. I learned to celebrate the victories, and not take the setbacks so hard.
We’ve been married and living in the heritage farm and house Great-Grandpa built for 18 years now. We kept the original 1890 stained glass in the doors. Windows still raise by ropes and pulleys, and we still heat the place with an old gas furnace in the living room.
But we have electricity in the upstairs bedrooms and our very own phone line. We also have a modern washer and dryer. Only now, I actually enjoy hanging clothes out on the line on nice days.
We recently won the 2006 Century Farm Award for Kansas. It’s given to a working heritage farm that has been in the same family for at least 100 years. And it’s a fitting tribute to everyone who’s lived here and worked these fields.
It isn’t easy to make a living farming these days, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Like the old saying goes, “I wasn’t born in the country, but I got here as fast as I could.”