IN A NUTSHELL
The Far Field Stories is a book in the making. It has at its heart the journal my father Ken "Pa" Hypki kept during his first full year of farming our small Wisconsin dairy farm with his wife Roberta. He'd returned from WWII, married my mother in October, 1951 and the next day, these two "city kids" moved to the farm with a GI loan. They were in their mid twenties.
Inspired by the rediscovery of Pa’s journal several years ago, I want to share the account of my parents’ work and love of the land over the past 65 years. I’ve captured their stories about the early years of Far Field Farm, about the cows and the time after the cows. Since those early years, the acreage that was meant to secure a livelihood through dairying became home to thousands of pines and spruce, ponds and kids. The book explores Ken and Roberta's journey of becoming rooted in a place.
Slowly, as my parents learned from the land and from others like Aldo Leopold, Louis Bromfield and the Soil Conservation Service, habitats for wildlife emerged from their efforts and the bare hills literally took on a life of their own. In the spirit of leaving the land better than they found it, the Hypkis have shared Far Field Farm with countless others who have walked the trails with them, learned from them and shared their awe at what nature has wrought.
The Far Field Stories distills the journal entries into prose poems or “prize gems” – named for one of Pa’s classic expressions. The gems, along with stories, conversations and photos form a mosaic illuminating lives now inextricably linked with a particular place. That place has never stopped teaching them and amazing them; as they've grown to become its stewards, it has provided them an enduring sense of home.
The Wisconsin conservationist and wildlife ecologist Aldo Leopold greatly inspired my parents with his land ethic: the concept that humans have a moral and ethical responsibility to treat the earth wisely. Today, when the land at home and abroad is under siege -- often viewed, as Leopold said, as a commodity rather than a community to which we belong -- I hope my parents' story will inspire others, rural and urban, to consider their own relationship with the earth and act fearlessly to protect it.
We hoped and we worked our fannies off...
we are living our dream every single day.
– Roberta Hypki
As you plan things in life,
you plan to go right and things go left.
You have to make adjustments for that.
– Ken Hypki
As of June, 2017, I'm nearing the end of my draft. The Far Field Stories will be published by 2018. To receive a notice when the book is ready or to preorder, click here. Sign up for my mailing list or my blog or share a comment on the Get Involved page.
In the six minute video below, Roberta and Ken Hypki tell the story of the project. Press the arrow to start; press Escape when finished to return to this website. Note that the video was made when the book was envisioned as poetry, rather than creative nonfiction.