At a time when most seniors are enjoying their retirement, Guy and Mary Ann Scott still run a 400-acre farm about 10 miles northeast of Sublimity.
“We’re very busy,” Mary Ann says. “We have a big garden and big yard to take care of and other daily chores.”
What makes this unusual is that Guy is 87, and Mary Ann is 86. The couple has been working on farms just about all of their lives.
“We get up about 7 a.m. and eat dinner about 8 at night,” Mary Ann says. “We go to bed pretty early.”
The Scott family’s maternal great-great-grandfather, John King, settled the land in 1849, just six years after the great Oregon Trail migration began. Ulysses S. Grant signed the deed on Sept. 27, 1850. Today, the Scott farm, one of 14 to gain sesquicentennial status, is highlighted on Oregon Blue Book’s Century Farms and Ranches Web Exhibit.
Seventy acres of their farm is leased to McKenzie Farms and the rest of the acreage is leased to Silver Mountain Farm and two neighbors. McKenzie Farms grows wholesale Christmas trees and Silver Mountain Farm is a crop farm.
“We planted seven acres of timber up where we used to pasture horses,” Mary Ann says. “We take care of the weeds, cleaning brush and planting trees after felling every four years or so. Guy still likes to run the tractor.”
The horses numbered up to 175 when the Scotts ran a rodeo string, Mary Ann says.
“We did everything from providing the horses to getting the entertainment,” she adds. “We did it for 12 years.”
As well as the horses, Guy, a bronc rider in his teens, and Mary Ann, also had 35 bulls. The couple held rodeos at county fairs all over the state.
“It would have been a lot of fun it we hadn’t been working so hard,” he says, chuckling.
Both Guy and Mary Ann were born at the Historic Brown House in Stayton when it was a hospital back in the day. They met in the 1950s in a strawberry patch when they were teenagers.
“Guy worked for Henry Hansen, and my dad was building a house for Hansen,” Mary Ann says of the reason for picking strawberries at the same berry patch. “We saw each other every day.”
Their relationship grew and, eventually, they married and had two daughters, Connie and Judy. The family helped on the Scott farm and then started a contracting business hauling hay in the summer for growers in eastern Oregon — Burns, French Glen, Riley, Juntura and Seneca.
“The girls helped rake and bale hay,” Mary Ann says. “We were living in an army tent to start with, and then a trailer. Of course, the farm was always our home base.
“Guy drove truck from when he was 18 until he turned 75,” she adds, recalling the trucking business they had on the side, hauling “cattle, hay, lumber, machinery – you name it.”
“My first truck was a ’49 Ford,” Guy says. “I bought it right out of high school with $2,900 I had saved up.”
When Guy’s parents passed away, the couple took on the farm duties full time. Despite the call of hard, physical work every day, the Scotts love being their own boss.
“Of course, you have your priorities,” Mary Ann says. “You have to clean messes, clear roads, repair buildings and fences.”
“It’s not the years that count,” Guy adds. “It’s the mileage.”
When Guy’s father, Verny Scott, built the original farmhouse, neither indoor plumbing nor electricity was available until 1929 and 1935, respectively.
His mother Vera remembered Verny’s sister commenting on the family’s first refrigerator, saying, “We might use it to put milk in it, but I don’t know what else we’d use it for.”
The original farmhouse is gone now, and the original fireplace was built around the patio of the “new” house. The barn is gone, and the house is equipped with solar heat. And of course, bath water now goes down the drain instead of being hauled outside when a week’s worth of dirt and grime filled the tub in the kitchen on a Saturday night.
Physical labor has abated since the days of laboring in the fields with horse-powered threshing machines, but it still takes a lot of hard work for these octogenarians to run their farm.
“We get by,” Mary Ann says. “We get to come and go when we want. We took the grandkids to Disneyland, Disney World and the Seattle Space Needle, and we went to Hawaii once.”
When asked if other trips are in their future, Mary Ann says, “I’m not sure where we’d go — and there’s the farm.”
Mary Ann and Guy agree, farming is their calling and is what their life centers around.
“And there’s our orchard, garden and friends,” Mary Ann says. “There’s something going on all the time.”