A Forever Farm
July 12, 2022
July 12, 2022
In 1948, a war veteran and his wife loaded all their possessions and a newborn daughter in a pick-up truck and left North Dakota for Seattle. Life as the manager of a grain elevator in the harsh climate of the great plains wasn’t the future they wanted for themselves or their children. But when they woke up in Coeur d’Alene, ID on one of their stopovers, Frank and Gloria Andrews knew they’d found their forever home.
They purchased land at the east end of Fernan Lake with a two-story log house, a shop, and a couple of other outbuildings and began to build their life. Quickly learning that the hot summers and lack of irrigation meant that farming wasn’t viable, they began raising cattle, and then in the 1960s, trees. Their daughter Cathy remembers helping her father as he tended the property and bottle-fed calves, and riding her pony all over the hillside. She spent hours fishing and the whole family pitched in to work the garden that provided much of their food.
In the mid-90s, after their children had grown up, moved away, and had families of their own, Frank and Gloria attended an event hosted by Wes Hanson. A longtime supporter and “conservation angel” of Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, Wes had recently put a conservation agreement on his land and eagerly shared his story of his love of the land and his dedication to protecting it for the future. Frank passed away in 1997 and although Gloria loved and tenderly cared for the house, the tree farm was too much for her to manage. Nevertheless, she stayed in the family home until she was 92.
Gloria and her children decided that putting the land into conservation was what their husband and father would have wanted. In order to keep the couple’s savings intact for Gloria’s use as long as she needed it, the family decided the conservation agreement would go into place upon her passing. They reached out to Inland Northwest Land Conservancy to make initial plans for the conservation agreement, and when Gloria passed away in April of 2021, the agreement became a reality. Conservancy Senior Conservationist Chris DeForest worked with the Andrews’ heirs and an anonymous donor who generously utilized a Qualified Charitable Distribution to cover the stewardship costs associated with the legal agreement.*
Cathy believes that connection to the land is something that is painfully absent in the experience of a majority of the people in the US and that protecting places like her childhood home from becoming yet another subdivision will give other families a chance to experience the simple, nature-connected life she had as a child. With the legal agreement in place, everything was filed for the sale of the land in June of 2022. The new owners are moving to Idaho from out of state and are eager to learn about the land’s history and how they can care for it as lovingly as the Andrews have for decades. “I hope they will be blessed by being here as much as we have,” Cathy says as she speaks of the grief of letting go, tempered with the comfort that the forests, streams, and meadows will be protected by the Conservancy forever.
This poem about the Andrews’ farm, was written by a friend and neighbor and is shared with the permission of her surviving spouse.
These are the sights and sounds of Frank’s Valley-
Memories and echoes of children’s laughter,
the chattering of squirrels in the old barn’s rafters.
Room and board for a wayward bird named Pidge,
the big truck working high on the East ridge.
Dogs like Bandit, Sam and Tromp who found a fine home,
a place for the turkey and quail to roam.
Eagle, Raven and Osprey soaring in flight,
the old sawmill working late into the night.
The old green Jeep chugging up the hill,
the chirping of chickadees and wrens are heard still.
From high in the air above moss-covered rock,
soars the mighty hunter, the Red-tailed hawk.
Black bear visiting the old apple tree,
and horses in the pasture running free.
Hoot owls conversing from high in the pines,
a place where the sun always manages to shine.
A very safe refuge for elk and deer,
the wild yellow rose will always grow here.
Hundreds of ladybugs and handfuls of oak,
the sounds of the frogs in the Spring when they croak.
Where the whispering coo-coo of the Mourning Dove,
assures us this place will always be filled with Love.
Fog hanging over Fernan Lake seen from afar,
Forever the home of October Glory and the Shooting Star
With love, Simone, Fall 1997
*Qualified Charitable Distribution: People over 70 1/2 years of age are allowed to make up to $100,000 in charitable donations through an IRA, each year, to a tax-exempt charity. Learn more about QCDs and how they can work in your financial planning here.