The Last of its Kind

In the city of Mason, Ohio, sits the last bit of “Rural” farmland. A town once known for its deserted streets and spacious farmland; Mason has had an economic surge of commercialized land. Home to P&G, one of the world's largest corporations, this farmland has rapidly shifted from an airy farm town to the best place to raise a family. Land in Mason was shifted to either residential housing, or commercial businesses. This shift had many farmers sell off their land to these companies to be developed. From north Mason, where Crooked Tree golf course was, is now developed into cookie cutter homes upwards of millions, to south Mason, where the Shoppes of Deerfield lack a field or deer. Mason has transformed into a residential center for many families to start and grow. Rated at the “seventh best place to live in the country” by Money magazine, Mason thrives on job security, growth, school system, economic strength, diversity and community. It’s a very appealing place to start a family. Becky and Danny Scruggs own the last bit of un-commercialized land, titled Hy Vue Farms. It sits at the corner of Irwin-Simpson and Snyder. Eighty-Three acres of farmland with houses and barns that fill this space. The land has been in the family for 3 generations and has seen changes to the surrounding area over the years.

Since moving to Mason in 2012, I never got to see much of the farmland before it was developed. While I have seen changes in the area, I couldn’t imagine walking down Mason-Montgomery in the afternoon and not seeing a single car, a common occurrence before Mason’s surge in infrastructure development. While walking through the Natorps rented land from the Scrugg family, I met Danny and Becky, and found their history extremely interesting, as farming is no longer a common practice in this area. I wanted to photograph and tell their story about some of the last bit of farmland in Mason and the impact the commercialization has had on their life. This story is currently in progress and will be updated as I collect more photographs and learn more about their life.

Danny Scruggs throws bread out to the ducks and geese that frequent his property. This is a part of his daily routine, always taking place at precisely seven in the morning.

Danny and Becky Scruggs move a round bale feeder onto a bale on Oct. 23, 2020. The Scruggs perform this ritual every two days. Over the years they figure how many bales they need to last them through the winter and pray they can make them last.

Cows fight for a treat from Becky on Oct. 21, 2020. The Scruggs have fifteen cattle total. One bull, seven cows, one steer, and six calves.

Danny lifts a pallet into the back of his truck. "We have our work clothes and we have a good clothes. You won't see me out here working in my good clothes, that why all of these are ripped."

Becky Scruggs kisses her horse, Star, on Jan. 3, 2020. The Scruggs have two horses, Third and Star. She takes care of them daily. Becky used to ride them, but recent injuries for both horses has prevented that. Becky still loves them the same.

Hy Vue Farm as seen from a bobcat. Hay bales are covered with tarps to help keep water off of them to prevent molding and wasted bales. 

Danny Scruggs throws weeds into the back of his pickup truck on Oct. 21, 2020. “It isn’t a pretty truck, its rusted out in places, but a farm truck doesn’t have to be nice” said Danny. He uses the farm truck around the property to haul items from one location to another. Danny stocks the front seat with any kind of tool or clothing he would need while out working.

Danny Scruggs unloads hay from his trailer while his cat, Hershey watches on Nov. 2, 2020. Danny named the cat Hershey because they got him from Hirshberg scrapyard in Lockland, Ohio. Danny said Hershey also has “a little bit of a chocolate color”.

Becky Scruggs pulls off a piece of a mushroom she found in her field on Oct. 23, 2020. Random mushrooms can be found around the property, some of which are edible. Becky said when she picked up the mushroom, “I think if it’s pink on the bottom it’s okay to eat.” She then proceeded to clean the piece off and pop it in her mouth.

The interior of Danny's farm work truck.

Danny stands among farm equipment that was once his father-in-law and now is owned by his brother-in-law. The equipment dates back to the early 60's and was used to farm at Hy Vue.

Danny Scruggs talks with Lanny Leach on Nov. 2, 2020. Danny has bought hay from Lanny for the past three years. Lanny strictly sticks with hay as the crop for his land.

After Danny returns with hay for the year, Becky and Danny discuss where to put the bales and how to do so efficiently. 

Becky Scruggs points at photographs they have hung up in their hallway that have been taken of the farm from over the years on Oct. 19, 2020. Becky talks about the differences in their farm from when she was growing up until now.

A butterfly, flutters softly as it dies.

Ducks fly into the Scruggs’ pond on Nov. 2, 2020. Despite any weather conditions, you will find the ducks out on the pond. One doesn’t have to wonder where the ducks go in the winter.

Danny Scruggs in the lower section of the barn on Nov. 2, 2020. The lower part of the barn is loaded with as much hay as possible, while the rest is taken to the upper level. 

After the sun goes down, Danny uses dollies to move hay into the bar.

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