Tribute by Victor duPont

In the early fall of 1960 Erskine called and introduced himself as the new owner of Old Welbourne, the farm directly across from ours. I remember thinking to myself, "what in the world do you see in that old farm?" Years of misfortune had allowed the old place to become very run-down and neglected - Old Welbourne had no ‘curb’ appeal. But Erskine, with his vision and attention to research knew what was there with regards to soils and the other raw ingredients necessary to make a good productive farm.

Many of you know of Erskine’s hunting capabilities. I would like to share my observations on the father and farmer side of this man, and since we shared a common interest in farming and our children were of the same age, a lot of time was either spent at Old Welbourne or at Hastening. Erskine’s knowledge and love of agriculture and the land were a huge part of him, and I can’t help but think this made a significant contribution to his ability to provide wonderful sport for the fields he led fox hunting.

Erskine made a number of contributions to farming here, and his introduction of ‘no-til’ planting really sticks out in my mind. No tillage went against all conventional methods and the comment around here by the locals may have been "what was Erskine smoking in that pipe?" Before long the Extension Service was holding a ‘field days’ at Old Welbourne to demonstrate an unconventional method that today is conventional. Erskine wasn’t afraid to get a little dirt on his hands and he loved to pick stones, chop wood, and mow either at home, or at Glenwood Park. Mr. Fred knew what he was doing when he left that charge to Erskine. Most of us have no concept of how much time he spent there. The next time you’re at Glenwood, notice how wonderful it looks and think of Erskine.

Our families were back and forth between the two farms a lot either having coffee or a drink or something to eat, depending on the time of day. Life at the Bedford’s was never dull, and there was quite a menagerie, usually dogs, ducks, pigs and goats that you had to make your way through to the back door. On one particularly cold morning, I stopped by for a cup of coffee and coincidentally, Joan was there showing off her brand new forest green Chevy station wagon with the luggage rack on the roof. I never could understand why she wanted that rack when we ordered that car. Her hay bales had ridden over to Erskine’s perfectly, on that rack, and the two goats standing on the roof couldn’t have been happier as they munched on Joan’s fancy alfalfa hay.

It was always fun at Old Welbourne. Often, after supper on a summer evening, it was fun for Joanie and Wes to hop on their ponies and go over to see Bear and Cricket. As time has marched on and I’ve had a chance to listen to my children reminisce about their childhood, especially the boys. Erskine was their choice of confidants when the ‘old man’ was being too tough on them. Kids always gravitated to him because he made them feel that he enjoyed being with them and they were important.

Erskine wanted some cattle to graze his new farm over the winter in 1960 and someone, perhaps here today, gave him my name and introduced me to one of the great friendships of my life. Whoever you are or wherever you are - thank you.