Return to Pleasant Valley: My Ninety Acres

An excerpt titled My Ninety Acres from Bromfield's book, Return to Pleasant Valley, on the importance of rural life and sustainable agriculture to our collective future.

| February/March 2004


They sat in a little circle in a tiny nest, none of them much bigger than the end of one of old Walter's big thumbs — seven tiny quail.

llustration by Wm. Keith Harrison

Pulitzer prize-winning author Louis Bromfield (1896-1956) wrote eloquently about the importance of rural life and sustainable agriculture to our collective future. This charming excerpt from his story, "My Ninety Acres," is reprinted from Return to Pleasant Valley, a collection of Bromfield's writings edited by MOTHER EARTH NEWS contributing editor George DeVault.

In the first weeks after I came home I never thought about my father's friend, old Walter Oakes. Indeed I had very nearly forgotten his existence. And then one day I heard Wayne, one of the boys on the farm, say something about My Ninety Acres, and I remembered it all and asked, "is Walter Oakes still alive?"

"Alive!" said Wayne, "I'll say he's alive. The liveliest old man in the county. You ought to see that place. Brother, that's the kind of farm I'd like to own. He raises as much on it as most fellows raise on five times that much land."

Wayne, of course, was only 20. He couldn't know how once people had laughed when Walter Oakes spoke proudly of My Ninety Acres. Clearly they didn't laugh any more. Clearly Walter Oakes was the best farmer in all the county, very likely the best farmer in all the rich Ohio country.

The next Sunday I walked over the hills to My Ninety Acres. As I came down the long hill above the farm I saw it hadn't changed much. The house still looked well painted and neat with its white walls and green shutters, and the barn was a bright, new, prosperous red.

As I walked down the hill I thought, "This is the most beautiful farm in America — the most beautiful, rich farm in the world — My Ninety Acres."

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