The Merit of Family and the Farming Life

Esther here, but readers, we’ll be trying something new where we join together for a post! Look for the name in bold that starts a new sister’s section 🙂

Sisters, I enjoyed seeing three of you at our Buckwalter family reunion this past weekend! I love that the Buckwalters make a commitment to reuniting often. Marcus, who was meeting our extended Buckwalter family for the first time this weekend, said, “It’s like much of the niceness and peacefulness in the world got taken away from everybody else and put into your family,” so I think it’s safe to say he liked our family 🙂

You'll never find a more attractive view.
“You’ll never find a more attractive view.” –Jewel

Sometimes I think to myself how well the farming lifestyle molded our aunts and uncles. The combination of hard work and patience required on the farm made them all so hardworking and patient! Their parents, genetics, religion, environment, the stars aligning, etc. probably helped too! Some of my favorite moments from the weekend included hearing shy uncles talk, seeing new babies totter around and shriek, playing soccer with family members of all ages, and Grandma Buckwalter relaying to me some advice she got from her doctor at her 10th child: “You have as many kids as you want! The world needs more of the kind of children you’re giving it.” I hope my kids will be as nice as hers, and that I’ll be as hardworking and loving as she is!!

The evening group watching the balloons.
The evening group watching the balloons.

Jewel here now. Family reunions always come as a surprise to me as an adult. I think I show up and immediately wonder, “What do I do, now that I’m too old to jump on my cousins and play make believe with leaves?” Having the reunion up in NY was so nice, because we get a more intimate group and we had opportunities to spend time with people I hadn’t seen in awhile. I don’t think I’ve been to a summer reunion in a long time, so this one was especially nice and getting Mom and Dad back from China made it even sweeter. Dinner at Locustbrae on Friday was so delicious. We sat on the grass and chatted about life and looked at the horses and sat on the steps of the back porch and watched the aunts and one uncle walk around and get a garden tour and chatted about life some more.

Watching the July 4th parade. I did the girls' hair in
Watching the July 4th parade. I did the girls’ hair in “Elsa braids.”

Saturday was a long day at Letchworth, which has so many great memories associated with it. Marcus mused that he and his family may have had family reunions there the same time we had been there, and it was funny to think about how all our lives can intersect with strangers who someday become family. The weather was cool in the shade and warm in the sun, the perfect summer day in my book. At lunch they opened the cooler of Stearns chicken and the aroma filled the pavilion and I just about melted, that is some truly amazing chicken. I ate an entire half for lunch and, since there were leftovers, another half for dinner. YUM! I didn’t do much physical activity, just moved around to different circles of people and talked. Forced Janna, Esther, Krestia, Marcus and Kevin to go on a walk past the middle falls towards the lower falls for a bit of exercise, but none of us were super ambitious about it. Sunday most of the family headed out after breakfast and I, with some help from Rach and Mom, made two strawberry pies for lunch–one in a shortening crust, one in a butter crust. We all agreed that the texture was similar for both pies, but the butter had more flavor. BUTTER FOR THE WIN! Over and out.


Janna signing in. Jewel, I agree with a lot of your thoughts about family reunions as an adult. I think what I enjoy the most the changing of relationships and finding different ways that we connect. I’m not running around with cousins any more or seeing the aunts and uncles as primarily authority figures. It is fun to find common interests as we discuss our gardens or yoga classes, sharing baby holding joys responsibilities, getting recipes from whoever made the food we enjoyed at the potluck, talking about dance classes or theater projects people are doing, watching the hot air balloons lift off together. I sometimes feel a bit flighty around my wonderfully solid and stable family members. I’m glad we all love each other and that there is room for all personalities.


Rachel here now! One of my favorite parts of the reunion was watching my daughter play with cousins her age, and seeing her start to form friendships that I hope will last a long time. All the cousins I played with are now having kids of their own, and it’s wonderful to see the connections across the generations. My daughter and her second cousin were inseparable all weekend.

Look at these two! Adorable.
Look at these two! Adorable.

I wish we had gotten a picture of the pregnant cousins. Three of us are pregnant right now. The next baby will be born in August, and he or she will be the 30th great-grandchild in the family! I am due at the end of November and another baby is coming in early December. Soon the great-grandchildren will outnumber the grandchildren! I sometimes try to explain how big our family is, and I resort to the numbers, which are pretty impressive. My grandparents had 12 children, 10 of which are living now. I have over 30 first cousins. When we all get together, there are over 100 of us. Family is a gift and I am so thankful for our big, happy family.


2 thoughts on “The Merit of Family and the Farming Life

  1. Martha, we didn’t explicitly say this, but we missed you tons and wanted to give you a taste of this year’s reunion! Hope we helped you feel connected to the bigger family this year.

  2. I love what Marcus said. Grandma had told me the same thing about what the doctor said, and those two quotes together do sum up the family well. I wouldn’t handle farm life well, but am thankful for how it shaped the older generation and whatever influence that had on how I was brought up!

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