Every year our family spends Christmas Eve in South Dakota. My mom grew up on a dairy farm outside of Sioux Falls, which for her meant hard work–but for me, it meant family vacations building forts in the woods and getting lost in corn fields.
My grandmother passed a number of years ago, and since then the family has struggled deciding to what degree to keep up the farm. Every time I return, it is with some uncertainty as to which buildings will still be standing. So this year I grabbed the camera and tromped about in the snow, my fingers turning red as I snapped a few shots.
I’m fascinated by these old buildings. Mom, it seems, has countless stories about milking the cows and caring for weak runt piglets, of taming feral cats and doing work in the fields with her father. She famously tells about the two vacations of her childhood: first, to visit her sick uncle out west; and second, to attend his funeral a year later. This hard lifestyle, she claims, is in part why her father died before his time.
As the farm stood silent this Christmas, I thought about all the years it buzzed with activity: cows to be milked, food to be made, chores to be done. A day like any other, with the exception that at its end, a family gathered around a warm table and a fragrant tree, and spoke deep midwinter blessings to one another.
See more pictures of the farm on Flickr.