They call themselves the people of the yard. Actually, I think a friend of mine gave them that title. Regardless, the people of the yard arrived from Chicagoland for another year of the annual Dallam’s Pig Out, or Farm Party or Summer Party. Whatever its called, this weekend is like therapy without the couch.
For 37 years this group of my parents’ college friends (hailing from Quincy College, now known as Quincy University) have come to the farm the first weekend of August. (I have shared a bit about them here and here.)
The annual shin-dig started with just a few couples. But each year another family joined. Soon they hired babysitters to spend the weekend corralling my generation numbering 25 strong. And this year we captured moments of the third generation conspiring in games of cops and robbers and flashlight tag.
Describing this gathering is hard because it is such a diverse group of people who, if not committed to the tenants of true friendship, would probably not run in each other’s social circles. We come from varied backgrounds, careers, challenges and accomplishments, yet this one weekend serves as a stopping point. Life hits pause and we cleanse our spirits with laughter – oh my, do we laugh. And we cry . . . for those of the group who are no longer with us, but also, I think because, at least for me, I am overwhelmed to be among such loyal people who are so much more than friends, dare I say, more than family.
Folks arrive Friday, pitch tents, and fill the mobile cooler with food and spirits. Certain people jump right in the pool or hot tub. Others gravitate to the hammock or creek. The days are filled with conversation, bag games, treks down the road, tours of my mom’s garden and food.
Oh, the food. Its a three-day pot luck. Saturday night is our “fancy” dinner with bar-b-qued pork chops and sweet corn. We toast to the tradition that probably started to keep the collegiate fantasy alive, but now is so much more.
We’ve braved ungodly hot and humid summer weekends, and huddled in sweatshirts and blankets on cold nights. The campers have weathered storms, flooded tents, holes in air mattresses, wandering 4-H horses and cattle, and a pig’s head on a pillow. Yep, there’s a story for that.
And stories for so many other things. In 37 years, we’ve accumulated quite the memory book from the water balloon fight that resulted in a broken window to folks arriving by plane. There was the time my dad took ill and the men decided to do chores resulting in the escape of an entire farrowing house of baby pigs. Talk about pig scramble.
We’ve celebrated milestone years with t-shirts, Ag Olympics, tent decorating contests and cookbooks. We’ve showered engaged couples and expecting parents.
Farms are places where the cyclic nature of life occurs daily. Naturally, it has become the place we gather each year to renew ourselves in some fashion. Here’s to 37 more years. Party on, people of the yard. Party on.