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FIFTY Study Page: Iowa “Farmer’s Holiday”

FIFTY Study Page: Iowa “Farmer’s Holiday”

Milo Reno and his wife Christine watched a fancy new car from the bank pass by their farmhouse and they both knew where it was headed: to deliver a foreclosure notice to a neighboring farm. As Milo remembered how Iowa farmers joined together to feed the troops in the First World War, he got an idea — an idea that would re-unite farmers once again and remind the government and banks just how important farmers are.


IOWA HISTORY - Biography of Milo Reno and Iowa Farmer’s Union - History of farming in the United States, especially during WWI and WWII - History of John Deer Farm Equipment

IOWA GEOGRAPHY - Map of most common farm crops grown in United States

“Farmer’s Holiday” Study Topics - Comparison between labor union initiatives in Farming, Mining, Factory workers, etc. - A better understanding of farm subsidies and how they work

Topics for Reflection

From a Child Development Perspective:

In this story, your child might learn that:

  • You have more in common with others than you think. Very often in life, if we wait long enough, we will come to have shared experiences with those whom at one point we thought we had little in common. Such was the case when Milo came to feel tremendous compassion toward Isaac Shields, a man who had one been a "personal enemy." Isaac had become like all other farmers — and he needed help.

  • There is great satisfaction that comes from doing hard work and making gains. Milo was proud of the farm that he and his wife, Christine, had built. With very few resources and a bank loan, they purchased the land and equipment that they needed to grow their farm. They were gratified and proud.

  • Changes are inevitable, but hope is certain. Very often in life we experience times of progress, and times where we can be discouraged. This can be challenging, but important also to remember that the tables can turn it anytime and when we are discouraged, hope for the future can sustain us. Just after the period of time when Milo's farm was prosperous, the war ended and everything began to change, including Iowa’s luck. But even that did not keep Milo from believing that the future would bring hope!

  • There is power in numbers. Some individuals in the world tend to be more concerned with their own personal gain than with the welfare of others. However, even when feeling overpowered by someone else’s capacity to control, banding together with like-minded comrades and helping each other to stay true to the cause can result in the reestablishment of an equal balance in power. Although Isaac Shields did wield power over struggling farmers, in the end it was the community that proved stronger than the individual.

  • Collaboration yields greater benefits than you might imagine. Sometimes when our own best interests are threatened and we feel scared, we may feel as though we have to compete with fellow human beings as opposed to working collaboratively with them. This can be a very difficult impulse to work against, but important to try. Even though it might not seem like it, working together makes ways that we can lift each other up, even in the most dire circumstances. Such was the case with the farmers when their plight was so difficult and they felt they needed to fight each other to survive. But in the end, it was their commitment to one another that brought them back to prosperity.

  • Compassion for others — even your enemies — brings surprising rewards. It can be counterintuitive, but great things can happen when we extend well wishes toward people in our lives who challenge us. If we remember that even “difficult” individuals are looking for the same things we are looking for — love and belonging and security and safety — then we can find compassion and extend a helping hand, even to them. This was the brilliant insight that Milo had when he remembered that all the farmers were working for a common purpose — to feed the nation — and that they all needed to help each other, including Isaac!

  • Small actions can result in powerful movements. We can make a big change in small step-by-step increments. It doesn't all have to happen at once. Milo's plan to unite and make farmers powerful again could not have happened overnight. It took months and months but eventually, step-by-step, arm-in-arm, they were victorious!


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About the Authors

David Sewell McCann

Story Spinner

David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.

Meredith Markow

Sparkle Schoolhouse Head of School

Meredith has been working with adults and children of all ages for the past 25 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant. She received a B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology from the University of Michigan, in 1984, an M.A. Ed from Washington University in 1987, and her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training) in Nurnberg, Germany in 1989. She was certified as a Living Inquiries Facilitator in 2014, and she completed her formal teaching certification with The Enneagram Institute in 2014. Her work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs to live a more joyful and compassionate life.

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