Thursday, November 3, 2011

Harvest in the Heartland

Today I would like to introduce you to a Modern American Farm Family- our friends, Matt and Angie Case from Hinckley, Illinois.  Matt is a fifth generation farmer in Illinois.  His family has been farming land in Dekalb and DuPage Counties since 1850!!!!  He and his wonderful wife, Angie, bought their current farm and home in 1998, and they have been living the country life together ever since.  They have raised their three children, Raquel, Taylor and Matthew on the farm since they were toddlers. Young Matthew hopes to follow in his father's footsteps and become a a farmer, too. Imagine, 6 generations of Illinois farmers in one family... a testament to American values and dedication.   Recently, the Cases invited us to come ride their John Deere combine and we jumped at the chance to see how a real American farm works. Angie, always the gracious hostess, treated us to a picnic of wine, cheese and apples. Matt gave Mr. Grand and me each a turn riding in the cab of his Combine as he continued the day's harvest. Their pride in their farm and their hard work is obvious and we are so grateful to know them. I only wish the weather had been nicer for my pictures, because I have been there on a sunny day, and it is truly Midwestern God's Country!

Here is an aerial view of their beautiful farm -this is Matt and Angie's Business card!

Here is the Case farmhouse and one of the barns- the house is over 100 years old
and the Cases have remodeled and maintained it beautifully.

 Matt and Angie are pictured below in front of their big red barn:

Here is the view from their front door- wide open spaces
and a strong sense of American history and perseverance. 

Matt's family has farmed in DuPage and Dekalb County acres for over 160 years! His great, great grandfather was born in 1830 and farmed in Lombard in 1850. Matt had this sign made to commemorate his ancestors and to celebrate the innovations that make it possible for him to continue the Case family farming tradition.

Here is Matt and his giant John Deere combine. 
This baby can harvest 10 rows of corn at a time and with it, Matt can harvest 100 acres a day. 
With 2,000 acres to harvest, producing 250,000 bushels of corn,
 it takes a lot of hard work and perfect weather to get it done every year.

It was fascinating to see how this works.  The combine has 10 pointy "snouts" in the front and Matt steers the snouts through the rows of corn, 10 at a time. There are 34,000 corn plants per acre and each plant has one ear of corn.This massive machine strips the ears of corn off the husks and then strips the kernels off of the ears and shoots the kernels into the bins and shreds the ears and husks and returns them to the field, almost instantly and AUTOMAGICALLY, it seems.
Gotta love American ingenuity!!!

This view is from inside the cab of the combine.  Matt has high tech equipment that constantly tells him the moisture content of the corn as well as the current yield as he harvests the corn. 

This is the combine at work - it moves through the fields at only 4 miles per hour but the corn flies through the machine almost faster than you can see

and when you look through the rear window of the combine, this is what you see:

They fill load after load of trucks with corn, day after day, throughout the fall. 

Next the corn is dried and then trucked to the Illinois River in Ottawa, Illinois, where it is put on barges and sent to points south and countries near and far.  
The corn is usually sold even before it is harvested.  
The farm land in Dekalb County, Illinois is some of the richest, most fertile land in the world.
I have seen this iconic sign below on my antique and flea market adventures, but I never really understood what it represented.  I am starting to get it...
It hangs with pride in one of the Case barns. 

Here are some freshly harvested, golden kernels of corn:

The Cases also grow and sell soybeans and seed and raise chickens, too!

Here are a few of their feathered friends- they lay the most beautiful spotted brown eggs.

This next picture is of Angie (prettiest Farmer's wife ever!) and one of their lucky dogs, Hurley. 
That dog had no idea what a wonderful life was in store for him
when the Cases rescued him from a shelter in Michigan! 
Beckham, their regal Golder Retriever, was smart enough to stay inside on this cold, raw day.
It was one giant leap of faith for Angie when they sold their suburban Oswego home 
and moved out to the farm. 
While Angie is not at all high maintainence like Eva Gabor in Green Acres,
I think she is pretty glamorous! 

She has embraced the lifestyle and created a beautiful home 
for her Modern American Farm Family!!!

The Case's "neighborhood" is the setting for a new movie starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Effron.  
They filmed right down the road from Matt and Angie's house this fall.  The movie is still untitled, but watch for it!  You may recognize some local scenery!

The Case farm was also the subject of a charming children's book called
"Farm" by Elisha Cooper.  This is the cover of the book:

And here are a few of the illustrations - one of the combine :

and one of the farm:

Many thanks to Matt and Angie 
for the picnic and the tour 
and a glimpse of their enchanting 
Modern American Family Farm!

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  1. Hello,

    Thank you for coming to visit my blog. I did finish my white kitchen and for a minimal budget the upgrade and transformation is just what we needed for us as well as for resale.

    You were right, I loved the white kitchen you featured. It is stunning!

    And I loved you feature on your little cottage in Michigan. I was born in st.joseph, Michigan. I love it there. And my family is mostly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which I write about frequently. I believe my sister is in your neck of the woods, she lives in Bartlett.

    This farm is beautiful. It looks like it could be in a movie.

    Thank you again for visiting me!

    Have a great weekend.

  2. This is an inspiring AMERICAN story. And its good to know that farmers have their crops SOLD before harvesting! Didn't know that. The American landscape would be incomplete without the red barns. Good to see this one being maintained. We've seen many unfortanately looking quite perilled. I like that close up shot of the corn.

  3. Erin,
    I love the farm! Tell Angie I want to come visit and I have some fabulous vintage corn pictures for her. Kim

  4. Oh Erin, It was so interesting to read the story of this American farm family's history. Even though the weather that day may not have been ideal the pics are great. I have always been so curious about your cottage. What a great redo. Thanks for the tour. The White kit is fabulous. Visiting your home through the years has been an up close view of the changes you and Mr Grand have done. The blog tour really did it justice through your pics.

    I am enjoying your blogs very much - keep them coming.


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