October 5, 2011

from the archives: August 25, 2009

Driftless: Stories from Iowa By Danny Wilcox Frazier:


Life in Iowa can be punishing. Many Iowans expend their lives sweating over soil and spilling the blood of livestock; they endure the hardships associated with a life inextricably bound to the ups and downs of nature. Today, those challenges and a shift in our nation’s economy have pushed the youth of rural communities to migrate to the metropolises of America. Those left in the wake of this out-migration continue their lives, seemingly unchanged from the generations that preceded them, and entombed in obscurity.


  1. Jamie on October 5th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I truly love this book, and I’d suggest everyone go to Barnes and Noble to get it, but I doubt any BN not in Iowa would stock it…

  2. Rick Neece on October 6th, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    The video is sad and beautiful, Sheila. Thank you.

    My sister and brother-in-law, most all their years together, lived on the Stone family farm outside Pocahontas (three miles back on gravel, off Hwy 67 South). My sister has taught accounting and business skills at Black River Vo-Tech for many years. It has, in the last some-years, become Black River College (a four-year school). Vic, my brother-in-law, has row-farmed his whole life. He has been on the school-board for many years. Their two sons, my nephews, are now in Fayetteville. (Northwest Arkansas. Go Hogs!) Andrew, my oldest nephew and his wife, both have their Masters, and teach middle-school science. Sean, the younger nephew is getting into sports-medicine.

    Who knows what for the family farm? They lived next door to Vic’s parents on the farm until the Spring floods ran them out last Spring. Vic’s folks have determined to stay with their land. Vic and Rhonda took an apartment in town. They’re building a house on higher ground. Vic might keep on farming, Rhonda might keep keeping the books. But the kids, it seems, want nothing more to do with it.

    Not that it’s bad. Just time passes and people move on.

  3. Carole Corlew on October 7th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    This is wonderful in so many ways. The Iowan’s friends who have stayed on the family farms have significant income from other sources. But probably the most interesting part to me was the old farmer who talked about what slamming pesticides into the soil for decades is doing to our food. Soil is alive. Stripping vital components from it means our nutrition suffers. So while we stuff ourselves, we are starving.

  4. Sheila Ryan on October 7th, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I’m glad y’all like. Thanks to Phil for the original post.

  5. Rick Neece on October 7th, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Yes, thank you, Phil.