Ashes to Grasses


Recently, I was contacted by a gentleman with an unusual request. One of the first female gas drillers in West Virginia drilled her first successful well on my farm. The well is known as Patton #1. A few months ago, this lady passed away. Apparently, she had requested to be cremated, but had not directed the eventual end of her remains. The family pondered the question of what would be the most significant thing they could do with her ashes.

They decided they wanted to scatter her ashes at Patton #1.

So, Sunday afternoon, I am expecting 12-15 people with 4-5 vehicles and one box (or something) of ashes. And this is fine. A little strange, for me, but fine. After all, they’re going to drive away, and I’m still going to have her ashes. So to speak! But I’m okay with it. Really!

Anyway. So here’s the thing. Patton #1 is in the horse field.

Or what was supposed to be the horse field. Now I have BP and Glory Bee in there.

I have explained that I have two (docile) milk cows in the field and that I don’t want to move them for the 20 or so minutes it will take them to unload the ashes. I have offered to take a feed bucket out there and lead the cows to the tippy far end of the pasture before they arrive. BP doesn’t exactly move like lightning, so once I get her to the far end of the field, she’s not going anywhere anytime soon. They probably won’t even see them.

However! I was walking Coco this morning when it hit me that the grass was QUITE HIGH around Patton #1.

What if they show up in suits and dresses? What if they’re not wearing chore boots? What if there’s a snake in there? They know it’s a field, so surely nobody will be wearing high heels. But still…. I should mow a path. Or something. I’ve already told them about the cows in the field, asked them not to block the access roads, and warned them that it’s been wet so be careful to not get stuck parking off-road. I feel as if I should handle this grass problem without bothering them. I’m not sure how much to mow to provide an appropriate space for the event. This is pasture, so I don’t want to mow too much of it. And my mower just left for WVU. If you were showing up to scatter ashes in somebody’s field, what would you expect? I’ve never hosted an ash scattering before. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do! Am I over-thinking this? Is it even my problem?

Now that the ashes are almost here, I think I’m a little weirded out!


  1. DebiJ427 says:

    LOL – you are so funny ๐Ÿ™‚ I can relate because I, myself, tend to overthink things. I think if I did anything at all, I would maybe have someone use a weedeater to make a little path.

  2. Leah's Mom says:

    If I were coming to your farm to spread the ashes I wouldn’t expect anything from you and would be happy to just get to come and honor my loved one.

    If I were the FARM OWNER…assuming I had time and the ability, I’d try to make things as easy and nice as I could to help them honor their loved one. That means I may mow just a path for ease of walking..but only if I had time and my mower was easily available.

  3. Maureen Child says:

    You are over thinking this, Suzanne. You’ve told them this is a field. If you’re really making yourself nuts, mow a single strip as a walkway. But I would leave it alone. It’s a field for your cows and they’ll appreciate you letting them do this so much it won’t matter.

  4. silentgoddess says:

    Personally, I would leave the pasture just as it is. I don’t think they are expecting to arrive to a well manicured English garden. And if they are… well, get the video camera ready, you could have the next viral video just on the horizon. Kidding! Kidding! (kind of…)
    I think leaving it as natural as possible is the best. She is returning to her roots so let Mother Nature take care of the rest.

  5. micowood says:

    Rural gal here – I agree with the above statements. The most I would do would mow a path and only a PATH ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just so there is no liability issues if someone would get tangled up in tall grass or fall over something. Plus a designated path might keep people walking willy nilly. But if you don’t have the time or ability don’t sweat it.

  6. dmcfarland says:

    This is a great kindness you are extending to the family, good Karma is on your side. It wouldn’t bother me at all knowing her ashes are there; it does seem right. Just think of this lady seeing your land all those years ago and making such an impact as the first woman to drill a successful well…….it’s so fitting.

  7. Spiderjohn says:

    At the minimum, I would at least make a path. There are bound to be older people there and you wouldn’t want them to step in a hole or trip over a rock or step on a snake. I also might have a pitcher or two of ice tea or ice water on hand to offer them. It is suppose to be hot Sunday here in WV.

  8. Pat says:

    You do seem to have with most unusual situations occur in your life. If you have time, a path the width of the lawnmower from the parking spot to the site and perhaps one lap around Patton #1 would honor this person and limit any liability. Country folk always do what they can to honor the departed whether they knew each other or not, right? Just add this story to the file for the next book!
    Pat in Eastern NC

  9. bogini says:

    How about placing some of the animals in that area? They could probably take care of the mowing….

  10. wildcat says:

    Suzanne, I think it’s very kind of you to be so concerned about this! They know it’s a field on a farm, so they know not to expect a brick path or anything. Let us know how it goes!

  11. lattelady says:

    Cows are curious. The cows will amongst the attendees.
    Personally, I would mow a path to and around the wellsite.
    Have cold water or iced tea available.
    Scattering of ashes does not take long, and they sink in fast. Especially if windy.

  12. doodlebugroad says:

    I would ask the family member you previously talked with if anyone attending the “ceremony” has limitations maneuvering a high grassy field. If so, OFFER to weed whack a pathway – otherwise, tend to tasks as usual. You’ve clearly told them it’s a farm field with cows.

  13. rurification says:

    You’re already doing them a big favor by allowing them to come, even though it will inconvenience you and your cows. Anything else you do is gravy. A path would be nice, but only if it’s not, in any way, a hassle for you. [And I draw the line at refreshments of any kind. That’s way too much to ask.]

  14. rhubarbrose says:

    I too think it is very kind of you to let them come to honour their loved one in this way. I’ve been accused of being “over the top” and overthinking things but I know I would want a path weed wacked to the well, keeping folks from walking through wherever they pleased. I too would offer lemon-aide or ice-water and I might even have a nice bouquet of wild flowers at the site. Keeping the cows from getting too close is very thoughtful. Good karma coming your way indeed!

  15. Pete says:

    Hmmm. Guess I’m with the mow a small path crowd. It just limits where they will be inclined to stray. Maybe a very small area (like double the width of the path?) in front of the well for them to sort of congregate.

    Nothing special – but a reasonable precaution.

  16. ljhoward1 says:

    I think you should do whatever you would like to have done for you if you were in their shoes. You will never know what they “expect” unless you ask, but I’m sure whatever you do will be greatly appreciated. Just do what feels right for you. You’ve got a sweet heart ,Suzanne.

  17. Dumbcatluvr says:

    Suzanne, I hardly ever comment, but this reached out and grabbed me.My husband was an outdoorsman,a hunter.He was adamant about how his remains were to be handled when his time came.He wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered in his favorite hunting spot.My son knew exactly where it was, and he and I trooped through knee high grass to get to it, down a creek bank, under a big tree.The peace I had,honoring his wishes, stays with me.I did what he wanted the way he wanted it.No frills, no special accomodations.You don’t have to do anything.

  18. Flowerpower says:

    Dont sweat it. You have done them a great favor by granting their request. Tell them to be careful and you are done. You do seem to get into the strangest situations!! I like the idea of scattering ashes. Just seems the appropriate thing to do. :happyflower:

  19. Granma2girls says:

    I guess if that was me scattering my beloveds ashes in a field, I would not expect there to be any mowed path. But in case it’s a rocky or uneven area of ground, I would think about clearing a small path to the site. I was wondering if it would be wise to have a liability release form signed by someone representing the family. You just never know(I’m Canadian,a very cautious group of people).

  20. kirbie says:

    After reading all the comments I think it might be best to mow a strip of grass. Seeing as how your dogs are pretty big and you can barely see them in the picture it might be a good idea. Then they can decide where they want the ashes to be spread, either on the path or in the grass. Just a little strip should be suffice.
    I also like the idea of a few wildflowers there, I think that would be a perfect touch and the family would like it very much.
    I don’t think, however, that you need to be there offering ice tea and water. That would be weird for you, and they will have their own drinks in their vehicle. Plus, they’ll likely be there for 20 minutes.
    You giving them the okay to be there is thoughtful enough. Anything you do they’ll appreciate.

  21. prvrbs31gal says:

    Personally, I think “Patton #1” should be the name of the first cabin or tent site at Sassafras Farm!

  22. SanAntonioSue says:

    Suzanne, my Daddy leased, grew, cut and baled hay himself from various land owners for many years after he “retired”. When he became terminal, he stated that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes spread in a particular hay field that he so loved to work. When I go home and pass by that field, I can feel the love, peace and happiness there, especially when I see the cows grazing and new calves running around in the warm sunshine. You need not do anything. Your gift to the family will warm their hearts for many generations and they appreciate it. :hug:

  23. WVSue says:

    I agree with Pat (comment #8). Since you have granted them permission to honor their loved one in this manner on your property it would be a further kindness to mow a pathway to the site.

  24. dawdawsmom says:

    wow, just add funeral director to your already long list of jobs! if i were you, i would get in my car right before they are to arrive and stay gone for about an hour and then come back. i wouldn’t do anything…this is their loved one and their ‘funeral’. if they had concerns about the condition of where they wanted to have it, surely they would have asked. if you aren’t there you won’t have to see how it plays out and you would be respecting their privacy as well…no pun intended!

  25. Sheryl says:

    Suzanne, could you call your cousin, or one of the men who have been working around the farm, and have them weed wack a path-don’t think your mower will go through the high grass. It would be nice to have a cleared path because if they fell and got hurt, it is on your land :/ Better yet, have them release the ashes in one of the flower beds-I’m sure she loved flowers too :purpleflower:

  26. ConnieM says:

    Seeing as how high that grass is, I would mow a path and make a loop around the well. As for having refreshments, well, it is the neighborly thing to do. But then, I am from Texas, and certain courtesies are expected. :purpleflower:

  27. bbkrehmeyer says:

    amen to dawdawsmom reply. don.t mow.just go.and return later.that way you are obligated for nothing.You are doing a lovely thing by letting them dump the ashes. If they happen to step in a cowpie.they can blame gb and bp!!!

  28. Chickenlady62 says:

    If you had time and someone available ,a mowed path would be nice . But I do not think that the family expects anything more then the kindness you have shown by agreeing to let them use the field. Good luck .
    Tina H

  29. DancesInGarden says:

    I am not into the scattering thing. The cows EAT in that field ;). Would you feel better about the ashes being burried close to the pump, in a time capsule? They could put in info about her, and that she drilled that well, and so on. I know I would like that better. But then again, I never pick the options given me, I rather like making my own rules :snoopy:

  30. Britishtea says:

    Suzanne, you’re a writer. No writer misses an opportunity like this. Assume your role as the proverbial fly on the wall and store away the experience for a future project.

  31. Country Girl @ Heart says:

    just throwing in my 2 cents . . .
    You didn’t mention where they are coming from. If they are not from the area they may not realize the grass might be that tall. I am for mowing a strip or at least contacting them to advise them of the condition of the field. Since you did advise them that the cows are living there, it might even lead them to believe it is low from grazing.

  32. joykenn says:

    I helped scatter my brother’s ashes on Mount Hood. Don’t worry about the ashes or the mourners. There were skiers and sightseers and we never noticed them much as we were thinking about my brother.

    These folks will be happy to know that their loved one is in a beautiful natural setting with life AND COWS going on around them. The cows won’t notice the ashes. The wind and rain will make the ashes part of the soil and surroundings as the deceased wished. It is a very kind thing you’re doing to allow them to come to the farm for their leave-taking.

  33. bar2a says:

    a narrow path and a 10′ circle? i don’t think they thought about it either. i’ll bet they didn’t think about poop.

  34. lifeisgood/ Melinda says:

    My two cents:
    I would have your cousin come bushhog a strip from the access road to the gas well and go once around the well itself. That will take him probably fifteen minutes. That gives the visitors a clear path to walk as well as a designated area to stay within. Plus, as others have stated, it pretty much relieves you of any nasty liability issues from falling and/or injury.
    As for the flowers and iced tea…both sweet gestures but probably not really needed. I’m not sure there is a protocol for an ash-spreading. They are coming to remember their loved one and not focusing so much on the surroundings or the offerings.
    Ashes to ashes, dust to dust………cremated bodies are just that…a lot of ash and dust which will settle into the soil and in no way will harm the cows or the land.
    I think you allowing this family to honor their loved one this way is wonderful and you have no reason to freak out.

  35. dmcfarland says:

    I’m back with another comment or rather a question. What does “Patton” signify? The #1 is obvious. And I think naming a campsite or whatever the other commentor suggested is brilliant. Names that have meaning to the farm or the area would be much better than single numbers or cutesy names. I bet this topic is giving many of us a subject to personalize and think what we might want if those were our ashes. Another lesson from CITR, thank you.

  36. cactusneedle says:

    I would have a path. Reason? Two words – cow patties! ๐Ÿ™‚ Just aayin’

  37. Diane says:

    If you can get a small path mowed to the gas well house then do that. Anything more is not necessary. Pretty much they are going to come and say their blessings and good byes and leave.

    Kind of neat they thought to do this. The lady was a part of the history of your farm. So to scatter he asses there and have a small memorial service is kind of fitting in a way.

    I know you are going to have a good story about this cant wait to hear it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Leck Kill Farm says:

    Seriously, I thought only my family did stuff like this! We spread my dad’s ashes on property owned by a stranger (long story) and they kept their distance. The wife approached my brother briefly and then went back in the house. We are a friendly bunch and it was a fairly happy event, as far as these things go, but we preferred not to talk to any of them. Maybe your “guests” will feel different since there is a physical connection to your farm.

    A mowed path would be nice but not necessary. My father would have loved cows in attendance.

    Please report back on this!

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