Needlepoint Farm


1950. I loved getting to roller skate in the back room of that house.


While Guy was in Vietnam, I lived with the folks on the farm south of Dexter, in the little green mouse-free house that Mom had designed and Dad (and Uncle Bill) built when the old American Foursquare farmhouse got too ramshackle.

Grandma Neal’s foot went through the front porch, so it was time to tear it down.

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Moving out of the old house, about 1960. Gloria is on the porch roof. The 1952 Chevy is at left. Dad used it for a pickup. The family car then was a 1958. (He missed my favorite 1957 Chevy by one year.) The rest are neighbors’ pickups.

I sorta got homesick knowing we’d be moving out of state again, so took a camera with me when I hiked down to the bridge and into Dad’s fields of corn, oats, and soybeans. I took pictures of the “back” of the barn, the granary, the steel grain bins I’d helped Dad with when I was in high school, the old hog shed.

During winters Dad would build things, machinery and from wood. He built a small hog something and a gravity wagon, which became a job for my sis Gloria and me to paint red the next spring, wearing shower caps so we wouldn’t end up with red hair.

While we lived in Colorado, I did a lot of stitchery and had learned needlepoint. I’m not good at art, like Gloria is (she taught art for 34 years), but discovered that photographs of the farm had taken care of the problem I had with angles. I plotted the farm on a big sheet of brown paper, counted stitchery squares, figuring out about what size it would end up.

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Taken during the winter, but shows angles and relationships of buildings and bins.

Artists can do what they want with their canvas. I mine, there are lilacs booming (May), corn tasseled (whenever), parsley (for humans and the larvae of Swallowtail butterflies), tomatoes ripe (August), and pumpkins about ready to harvest (later).

Once I caught a mouse in the top floor of that red granary. I never did it again after it sank its little teeth into my finger as I climbed down to go show everyone.

Gloria’s fluffy cat Dudley lounges at the front door. I wish I’d though to take a picture of Mom at the clothesline.

I had the needlework framed and gave it to Dad for Christmas the year we moved back to Iowa with our two year old. He was delighted.

Dad had just opened the needlepoint of the farm and was showing Mom. It’s Christmas so he’s probably wearing new overalls, or at least his best ones.

It lives with us in the suburbs now, a reminder of childhood and warm memories.

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    • Thank you, Sharon! I didn’t think about it eventually becoming my treasure. My sister still lives there. Looks about the same but she doesn’t garden and she painted the house white.

    • I didn’t think of it as art, just something I knew Dad would appreciate. I just found a picture of him (in his best overalls) having just peeled the wrapping paper off of it and showing it to Mom–now on the blog post.

  1. That is a fabulous work of art, Joy! Yes, you have artistic talent, too, and you’re a wonderful writer. Delightful photos for the backstory.

    • Thank you for such encouragement! I also went through a quilting phase, then developed carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. Have had surgery on both, but not the same for stitchery. God’s nudge to write instead?

  2. Joy, you are a very talented lady. Thank you for sharing these pictures and needle work.

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