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For Max Howes, home is 235 acres of trees and fields, an old dirt road and a barn built in 1903

A photo of a young person in a camo jacket standing on a dirt road.
Anna Van Dine
/
VPR
Max Howes stands on Howes Road in Moretown. His family has farmed here for generations, and his great-grandmother taught in the one-room schoolhouse behind him.

Home is my farm
where my cows are
and where my family is. Home is where it's warm
and heated by the woodstove.
Home is 235 acres of trees and fields.
Home is where I grew up.
Home is where the deer walk in.
Home is an old dirt road.
Home is a barn built in 1903.
Home is where
my dad and I drink our coffee
on early mornings.
Home is where my grandparents live
and where my cousins can stay.
Home is where my friends are.

That is a poem written by Max Howes. He's 12 years old and lives in Moretown. He and I recently spent a morning together, and he took me for a walk to visit some of the places in that poem, and show me the meaning of home.

Note: The following is a transcript. We recommend listening to this story.

Max: I usually come downstairs and I look out the window and see what the field looks like. In the summer, I just see the wind push the hay and it sways. But in the winter, I usually look out and it's all covered in snow, and so is the trees, and it's pretty.

This is one of the fields that I used to ride with my dad in the tractor when we spread manure. And that tractor I could show you when we go up to the farm, 'cause that's my favorite tractor. And my dad's favorite tractor.

Two toy tractors in a barn.
Anna Van Dine
/
VPR
Amid the farm equipment, there are two toy tractors. Max has been driving real tractors since he was 6 years old.

I'm pretty sure my great-great-great-grandfather started this farm. It's a retired dairy farm. And we used to have like 30 to 50 dairy cows in there.

I had always thought that we would just keep the cows forever, no matter what. Because it would just be part of this farm. It'd keep it in condition. But now that we have no cows, it's kind of run down.

Since it's wintertime, we have to put the — these old tractors in the shed, because they have no use in the wintertime. We only have chains for that one tractor and no chains for the others. And they don't like to start when it's cold. I've drove every tractor on this farm.

This tractor is the one that I was talking about. It's a Ford 4610. It's was built the year after my dad was born. So it's in its 30s, basically, it's like getting close to 40 years old. I like it because it has the power to do what you want it to do. And it just is a good tractor to everything.

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This is the milkhouse where we got our milk from the bulk tank. But we got rid of the bulk tank now. So that's nothing to show. But that would be a pretty cool part to show because it had a lot of stories.

This used to be the milking barn where all the dairy cows would go. And I remember my dad, he could go from there to the other end of the barn in five seconds. Not even. Like he could have one cow milking there, and another at the other end of the barn, and he could switch them out like in the same time.

An old dairy barn with a blue sky.
Anna Van Dine
/
VPR
The dairy barn at the Howes farm. It was built in 1903.

My dad said he misses it, but he doesn't at the same time. Because seven days a week, two times a day ... he said it was just horrible. But he said he still misses the cows, because they had a very big character to this whole area.

Anna: Do you think you'll ever leave this place?

Max: No.

Anna: How come?

Max: Because it's just where I grew up, and where I'll always be familiar with. Even if I took like a five-year vacation and came back I'd know ... everywhere.

Anna: So it's home because you know it?

Max: Yeah, it's just where I grew up and where my dad's grown up, my grandfather's grown up, where all the generations have grown up, and it's been home to them.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Anna Van Dine @annasvandine.

Anna is a reporter and co-hosts Vermont Public's daily news podcast, The Frequency, with Henry Epp.
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