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Remembering Grandma Augustus

Posted 11/8/2019 8:00am by L&A Family Farms.

Letha Augustus passed away Friday, November 1, 2019, a few days after celebrating her 102nd birthday. Letha was Brian and Kevin’s grandma and Valerie, Everett, Jess, and Tim’s great-grandma.

Grandma Augustus will always be remembered by the L&A Family Farms families and staff. While we've always had her support, here are some of the instances of her direct involvement with the farm over our past 15 years of operation.

One of the earliest memories takes us back to the start of our business. L&A Family Farms was established in 2004, and we began selling our products at farmers markets in Paris and Terre Haute. Grandma Augustus’ house was the Saturday morning hangout for Everett, Jess, and Tim as they were too little at the time to help at the markets.

In 2006, we began raising meat chickens. We would raise multiple batches of about 200 birds per batch in the summer, and after 7-8 weeks, they were taken to the USDA-inspected processor in Arthur, Ill. In our final batch of 2007, we had a few chickens that were too small to go to the processor. We held them back and decided we would butcher them at home for personal use once they grew a little more. Grandma Augustus was instrumental in the process since she butchered countless chickens over the course of her life.

On butchering day, Grandma and crew converted her basement to get ready. The old propane stove was suited with big pots to boil water to scald the chickens, cleaning dirt off the feathers once the they had been killed. After scalding, the chickens needed to be plucked. Like a pro, Grandma took charge and demonstrated to the rest of the crew how to remove the feathers and then put the chicken over a fire to singe the hair off. After that, it was on to cleaning and cutting the chickens, which Grandma was also a pro. Keep in mind, at the time, Grandma had just celebrated her 90th birthday … and she could still butcher chickens without missing a beat.

Grandma plucking a chicken (left) and cleaning/cutting it after being singed (right)

Another way Grandma helped the L&A crew was at harvest time. If the weather allowed, everything was go-go-go on the farm to get as many acres harvested in a day as possible, so, especially during corn harvest, that often meant lunch in the field. Grandma and Brian’s mom, Doris, were the ones in the kitchen making sandwiches, bagging veggies, baking cookies, and throwing an assortment of goodies in lunch bags to be dispersed amongst the harvest crew. – While food is being brought up, Grandma was an excellent cook, from main courses to dessert. She always ensured her family was well-fed and provided a big spread for gatherings.

Once the farm got into the egg business, Grandma Augustus took on another role for the farm. If you’ve purchased a dozen of our eggs, you’ll find two labels that we print and put on the carton. Doris (Brian’s mom) and Grandma became the designated egg carton labelers for the farm, a job typically done once a week – and quite often, on short notice. Grandma would peel the labels off the sheet and hand them to Doris who would put them on the carton. Even after recovering from a broken hip and pneumonia, it was a job Grandma took very seriously and always looked forward to doing. Anytime she would see a stack of egg cartons appear in her breezeway, she’d be quick to ask, “Is it time to do more egg cartons?”

One of the biggest memories to recall is one that we planned for Grandma Augustus to show her how much her love and support meant to us at L&A Family Farms. When planning for our second sunflower maze in 2017, we decided to honor Grandma who would turn 100 in October. The design was crafted in early June, but it was kept a secret from Grandma until we got it cut in the field. We finally revealed the design to Grandma and brought her down to the maze for a photoshoot. Later in the season, she even made a couple appearances at the store and visited with maze-goers.

As aptly put in her obituary, “Letha was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother,” who “will be remembered by her faith, excellent cooking, and sense of humor.” We will cherish the memories of Grandma forever in our hearts and hope she knew just how much she meant to us.

To see Grandma’s full obituary, click here.

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