Working the land for 90 years
Ed Forshee’s family homesteaded in Craig areaEd Forshee, 90, just sold his apricot orchard near Rulison last year.”I’ve never known anything other than farming,” Forshee said, sitting in a comfortable chair in his cozy living room at Crossroads Assisted Living in Rifle.Forshee was born in Kansas, though he doesn’t remember any of it and never went back to visit. His parents moved to a spot of land outside of Craig when Forshee was only three years old.”We lived 30 miles away from Craig,” Forshee said. “And those were not automobile days; those were horse and buggy days.”
Forshee’s parents homesteaded a piece of property there.”Can you imagine the courage those people had to have to go out there?” Forshee asked. “All they had was a bunch of acreage with some sagebrush. You know what homesteading is, right? The government gives you land if you can prove you can make a living on it.”After about 10 years in the Craig area, Forshee’s family moved to Morrisiana Mesa outside of Rulison. Forshee had two older brothers and one younger brother.”I’m the only one left now,” Forshee said. “My family is all gone.”Forshee does have two adopted children – Myron, who lives in New Mexico, and Jeanie in California. He’s a grandfather and a great grandfather. His daughter was just out to visit.Forshee’s wife, Marie, died in 1997.
They grew up together in Rulison. She was a year or two older, Forshee said. She’d been married for about two years when her husband died from complications with appendicitis.”She moved back here to live with her folks,” Forshee said. “There was a little lake by the river that would freeze over in the winter time and we would go ice skating down there. We always joked that we were ‘skating on thin ice.’ That’s how we got to be friends.”Forshee rented a farm for several years as a young man before he bought the apricot orchard. Later, the family he rented from sold him their farm and Forshee had a lot of acreage to care for.The orchard had some peaches on it, but Forshee added apricots. Those would take five to six years to mature and become profitable so, in the meantime, Forshee planted black raspberries.”That was a faster cash crop,” Forshee said.He hired about 20 people to pick the berries during harvest season. He said the average wage at that time was about $2 a day. But he paid $1 a crate and it was not unusual for pickers to fill five or six crates a day.
“A laborer could potentially make quite a bit picking,” Forshee said.As it got harder and harder to find pickers, Forshee started to pay more – $2 a crate. And eventually, he stopped growing fruit and switched to raising cattle and farming hay.”We got out of it while it was still a good business,” Forshee said, smiling.Contact Amanda Holt Miller at 945-8515 ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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