The road that led to me becoming a certified bumpkin has been paved by many people and events. I was certainly always drawn to country life, although I had no real reason to be. Of course, meeting and marrying farmer-husband has led to only further deepening my love for country living and the life it provides. But before my life even began, there were events taking place that would eventually lead me to the life I’ve grown to love, my life here on our farm.
In 1945, a young service man had just been honorably discharged from the Navy Reserves. He had a young wife and a new baby. He was born and raised in Monticello, on South Waukeenah St., and so to Monticello he returned to start his new life. At a time when most of America was leaving the farm for urban industrial life, he moved to the country and purchased 120 acres of land on a dirt road with no name in the north end of Jefferson County. There was a small house that had belonged to a share cropper on the property. There was no electricity in the house. There was no running water. The man had 2 mules and he planned to start a peanut farm. This man was CA Fulford, my husband’s grandfather, and he passed away quietly this past week into heaven.
Mr. CA, as he was known to almost everyone, dedicated most of his life to farming. Although he started out meagerly, his farm became one of the most successful farming operations in the county during the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. From what is said about him, this can be attributed to his dedication to hard-work, fair treatment toward his employees, and faith in the Lord. He was mainly a peanut farmer, and that is what he is still known for today, but he also grew watermelons, tobacco, soybeans, corn, cotton, grain sorghum, wheat, hay, and at times even raised hogs and beef cattle. The only day he officially took off was Sunday, but my husband remembers that CA always carried a cane pole and a can of worms in his truck just in case a fishin’ hole tempted him while he was out working.
Mr. CA had 2 sons who eventually carried on the farming operation when they were of age. Those 2 sons each had a son who eventually carried on the farming operation as well. One of those is my husband, and that is of course how I got here. This past week, as we have reflected on Mr. CA’s life, I find myself marveling at the fact that a mere 65 years have passed since this farm as we know it first began. So many changes have taken place in that short period of time. He first purchased 120 acres of land; we now farm 1800 acres. He used one mule in the morning and one mule in the afternoon to plow and plant his fields; we now use tractors with as much computer equipment as the space shuttle complete with GPS guidance to boot! He didn’t have electricity; our tractors and our homes are kept cool by air conditioning. He liked to tell jokes and play the harmonica; we don’t know any jokes and we certainly can’t play the harmonica like he could.
I have thought over and over how thankful I am that he took the chances that he did, that he farmed the way he did, that he treated people the way he did, and that he chose to live his life the way he did. Without that, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today, out in the country living my dream as a bumpkin. It was his sacrifices, his hard work, and his aching back at the end of the day that made it possible for this farm to survive as long as it has. This farm has a bright future ahead, and I wish he could see his great-grandchildren living here and enjoying the legacy he created for all of us.
Twelve years ago, when I first met Grandaddy, as we called him, he was boiling peanuts on the stove, and drinking a Pepsi. At that moment, I had no idea my life would turn out the way it did nor did I think that I would one day need to thank him for the way he paved for me. But I thank him now, from the bottom of my heart, and I hope that we are all making him proud by the way the farm continues on in his honor and memory.
Mr. CA Fulford, may you rest in peace forever!