Would somebody turn out the lights when we’re all gone?

I heard on NPR today that Tuttle’s Farm in Dover NH is closing. It was a kind of upscale farm store that they tried to pass off as a mom and pop operation. It went on sale on Tuesday for 3.35 million dollars. That’s no mom and pop farm but there’s no denying the Tuttles have been around a long time, the farm was founded in 1632. That’s eleven generations starting with John Tuttle who only had his father’s axe and two pewter candle holders after a hurricane sank the ship he arrived on.

The Tuttles can answer the questions: Who are we? How long have we lived in this place? What do we value? Well they could until last Tuesday. Now they’ve joined the rest of us. After three hundred and fifty years of hardship and struggles I finally gave up too. It was a few years before the Tuttles but since my family was already here when John arrived I figure we had an even run. It’s just that NPR and the New York Times didn’t do Sunday fluff pieces on my departure. Maybe I’ll take over from where Ben Ames Williams left off and write the rest of the story myself and get a spot on NPR too.  It’s a changing world folks and someone has to remember what it was like because it was good even if it was hard in a lot of places.

I think I’ll just let the Tuttles speak for all of us that have been displaced. Just remember to take off a couple of zeros when you read about the price of the family heritage.

.Forty years ago, “Life” magazine did an article on the Tuttle Farm that many of you may remember having seen.  The title of the article was “300 Years on the Same Piece of Land”. The ten-page article featured lots of great pictures and a story compelling enough to bring Will and Lucy home to the farm where we felt we belonged, where we have made our lives.

Over the past several years, we have been wrestling mightily with a decision that we have now most reluctantly but realistically taken: to put the business, the farm and the farmhouse up for sale.  Accordingly, it has been listed with LandVest, a real estate broker affiliated with Christie’s and other multi-listing companies, that deals with large estates, farms, orchards, vineyards and the like.

There are many reasons for our decision, all having to do with exhaustion of resources:  our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our imagination, our equipment and machinery, our finances.  Our area has been hit very hard by the current economic crisis.  Many people are out of work, while a good number of our older customers have lost much of their investment income.  Over the past several years, customers have gone from using shopping carts to using shopping baskets to using just their hands to gather what they can afford to purchase.

There is a large part of both of us that wishes things were different, but there is also a part that is ready to take off the harness and let ourselves out to pasture, to visit family and play with friends, to pursue whatever dreams we might have, to sleep in…. or even to sleep!   The land is protected by the conservancy so it cannot be made to grow houses.  We are comforted by that, and feel sure that you are too.

We hope that we have your best wishes as we undertake the process of letting go.  It might take some time, although we have our fingers crossed  for a speedy transition now that our decision has been made.  We shall do our best to keep you up to date.

The Kid’s book Tuttle’s Red Barn

There’s a book about my family too Ben Ames Williams based Come Spring on the adventures of Mima Robbins and her husband Joel Adams

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