Bought by his grandfather, worked by his two uncles, foreclosed on by the bank, and bought at auction on the Fauquier County Courthouse steps by his father, the 345-acre Clayton Trumbo farm near Calverton has been in the family since 1915.
Located about 50 miles from Washington, it has been a dairy farm. Planting. harvesting, feeding and caring for the animals has been the center of Trumbo's life - that of his wife Betty Ruth, daughter Susan, and son Douglas for 28 years.
Until 1974, Trumbo was a dairy farmer, a job that allowed no holidays, no time off, not respite from the morning and evening routine from the morning and evening routine of molking. For the first 16 years of their marriage. from their wedding trip in 1958 until 1974, the Trumbos took only one vacation - three days in Ocean City.
Daughter Susan, now 16, started milking at age 9. Trumbo averaged an 80-hour work week, even with all four family members milking morning and night every day of the year.
In 1974, economics - as well as the unrelenting demand of the dairy that caused the Trumbos to reassess their life and consider selling their cows.
"In 1973 at Thanksgiving I estimated the value of our feed at $143,000. After feeding, our gross milk check would be $92,000, (or less than the cost of the feed). It didn't pay, Trumbo said.
So, early the next year, the Trumbos sold their 250 cows. "With the dairy it was no life," Trumbo says. "This new life is great." After selling the dairy herd, Mr. and Mrs. Trumbo drove their camper out West for four weeks, and during the 1976 Christmas season they went to Florida on their first family vacation. Including his wedding trip, and the Ocean City weekend, the Trumbos now have taken four vacations in 20 years, not counting a two-day trip to the Midwest given Trumbo by John Deere, the farm machinery concern. That was the only time in his marriage he has been away from his wife.
In the "new life" on a grain and beef cattle farm, everyone is up by 7 a.m. by which time Trumbo is already at work. The children do chores and leaves for school at 8 a.m. Mrs. Trumbo drives them to the main road to catch the bus. She says she spoils them a little.
Trumbo comes in at noon for a hot lunch goes back out at 1 p.m. to work his land and the 450 extra acres he rents. It is not naturally rich land but with care and hard work he and his father and grandfather have made it productive for corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and hay.
The children get home from school at 4 p.m. and do afternoon chores, helping with the seven show-class bloodhounds and the cattle.
At 6 they stop work for dinner together. In planting and harvesting seasons - about half the year - there work to be done at night. On a recent weekend, Trumbo harvested soybeans with a combine until 2:45 a.m. Sunday, trying to finish a field before the ground thawed.
"Generally I try to limit my day to stopping at 12 midnight," Trumbo said, "and we try to keep the children's work down during the school year."
During planting and harvesting, Mrs. Trumbo, 36, drives farm machinery all day, but the winter is relatively easy. A recent week went like this:
Monday she rounded up eight steers who had broken through a fence, fixed the fence, loaded 300 poundsof grain and 20 bales of hay on a wagon and fed the cattle.
On Tuesday and Wednesday she was free to sew (she make her own and Susan's clothes) and cook (she uses 400 pounds of flour a year and makes hot bread daily). There were piano lessons on Tuesday and organ lessons on Wednesday for Susan, and church for the family Wednesday night.
On Thursday, she loaded 430 bushels of corn on wagons, using a frontend loader, and took ceramic lessons with the children.
On Friday, Mrs. Trumbo loaded a trailer full of corn to be dried and made a 4-foot wreath for her church.
On Saturday, she got her hair done, and with Douglas, 14, loaded the dried corn on a trailer for hauling to a buyer.
On Sunday she taught Sunday school, while Trumbo drove a church bus. Mrs, Trumbo also rases and shows bloodhounds, hunts and drives the children to extracurricular activities. That put 3,000 extra miles on the car last year. But this year Douglas has given up soccer and Susan - who is 6 feet tall - has been unable to play basketball since tearing tendons in an ankle. She did that driving cattle across a stream last summer. Both children play in the high school band. Mrs. Trumb was born and reared in Washington, met her husband at church in the city, married at 17 and moved to the farm.
"I didn't even know what chickens were," she said, but now "I enjoy being out in the field driving a tractor. I get tired, but the sky is lovely and the earth smells sweet, geese fly over and I holler everytime I see a mouse.
"I missed the shopping the most," she said, "but all of a sudden I realized how rude people were in the city. I had no desire ot go back to live."
Susan helps her mother with a one-third acre garden and they grow most of their food. "We enterain a good bit - 14 or 18 people for dinner - and we go out to friends' houses," Mrs. Trumbo said.
"We don't smoke or drink but we do eat," she said. "I'd like to eat out but he thinks I'm a better cook. I'd also like to go to the ballet, but I haven't convinced him."
Mrs. Trumbo reads widely, seldom watches television, and with her husband has taken Virginia Tech extension courses in tax law and other subjects for the last 19 winters. The financial accounting for the farm takes about three hours a week of her time.
"Both of our children are bookworms and are reading on a second-year college level." Mrs. Trumbo said. "The daughter is on the honor roll and the boy always seems to just miss it. I believe they'll both go to college. I'd like them both to be vets. My son wants to stay on the farm but his father doesn't believe the government will let him. My daughter doesn't want to milk cows like I did."
Trumbo said, "In 1960 I would have said wanted my son to stay on the farm. But now even with a large investment you can barely make $10,000 - $12,000 a year, hope he can do better."
"In all my daddy's time, the farm never went more than $20,000 in debt, including the buying the place when he was 21," said Trumbo, who at age 42 has been working full-time on the farm for 28 years.
That debt has expanded greatly since his father's death in 1972, and Trumbo said. "What's tearing me up is the thought of leaving debt for my family."
The children are still teen-agers. They're not gold-plated," Mrs. Trumbo Said, "But they are more basic than city children. They help earn the living .They know where the money comes from and hown hard we have to work for it."
The Trumbos first took the children into the fields lmost as infants. "We'd be working in the field at night on tractors and she'd take one and I'd take one," Trumbo said. Susan and Douglas have been driving farm vehicles under supervision since they could see over the wheel and are now proficient operators.
They went to Disney World last Christmas and were bored by the rides, Trumbo said, "It wasn't as much fun as riding on a combine."
For Trumbo, work follows the cycles of the seasons in March he starts applying fertizers planting grass seed for hay and plowing. The plowing and fertilizing continue until April 2 when corn planting begins. If the planting falls behind, the whole family will work until 11 p.m.
On May 5, soybean planting begins and on May 10 Trumbo starts cutting hay. On June 1, he starts harvesting wheat and barley planted in late fall.
"After July 4, we take three or four days and go to the Chesapeake Bay and catch some blues," Trumbo said. On July 15, he starts to lay the foundation of the one house he builds a yer to supplement his farm income, and at the end of August he fills one silo with silage for his beef cattle.