Farmers may just be the hardest working people you will ever meet. They are the hardest working people I know. They get tired and they are tired, but it’s not for the reason that usually comes to mind.
Yes, the farmer works long hours, especially in the spring and fall, but that’s not why he is tired.
He was up most of the night during calving season, checking heifers every two hours. He had to pull a calf to save it. Then the vet had to be called for a 2 a.m. visit to try to save that same heifer from a prolapse. Now he will spend the rest of the day praying she doesn’t die.
He spent hours building that fence around the pasture in the hot burning sun alone. And now the cattle need to be moved to the pasture. They don’t cooperate, no surprise. They run around the corrals, the gait hole, and through the fence. They go everywhere except where he wanted them to go. He will now spend a few more hours dealing with them.
He hasn’t seen his kids or his wife for more than a few minutes a day for a week now, during harvest. His daughter cries at night because she misses him so he talks to her on the phone quick at bedtime to help her feel better. Then says a quick, “I love you. See you in the morning.”
He goes to classes to learn more about the next “best thing” in technology to improve planting and harvesting. But he ends up teaching the class, answers everyone’s questions and learns nothing. He knows more than the dealers because he actually farms and runs the equipment. He has had to figure it all out himself. There was no hotline for him.
He has been dealing with sick calves for weeks now. He has to tube feed them numerous times a day because they won’t drink from mom. If they don’t drink, they will get dehydrated and they will die. It’s up to him to keep them alive.
He babied that calf for a solid week, brought him back from the brink of death numerous times, brought him to the vet, gave him all the medication he should of, but that calf still died.
He could be done with this crop in two days. But the combine decided to break down for the tenth time this season. So he’ll spend a day fixing it only to run into rain and snow. Those two days turn into a week and a half.
He signed his life away, yet another year, to be able to put a crop in the ground, to be able to farm another year. He knows nothing is a sure thing in farming but he takes another chance. His house is up as collateral, along with about everything else he owns.
He can fix just about anything and fixes everything. It seems about every day something else breaks. Something he has to use for the day. It never could just break when he’s done. And those repairs add more time to his day.
He watches crop prices plummet, wondering where the bottom could be. He hears people laugh and not care. “Farmers are rich,” they say, “they can handle a few bad years.” He isn’t rich, nor has he ever been. He could lose everything in one bad year.
He had a wind storm blow through and destroy half his crop. Any corn profit he would have had is now laying on the ground. He will crawl along with the combine trying to get every kernel he can into the head.
He took the calves to the sale barn looking forward to seeing how much they would bring. He leaves disgusted, wondering why he chose today. He just gave them away.
He doesn’t ever get to truly punch out for the day. He is always on the clock. There is always a list of things to do and if he doesn’t do them, they don’t get done.
He watches the farming expenses pile up as the bills start coming in. They are always higher than expected. There is always an expense he wasn’t expecting. He prays he can pull it off again this year.
He misses out on days and nights at home with his kids, with his family. Times he will never get back. He does all he can to make up that lost time because they are his world.
He lays awake at night worrying. Worrying about the weather, the crops, the animals, the broken-down equipment, the next day’s work, the loans, and his precious family.
He wonders why he works so hard day in and day out to come out empty-handed. He wonders when what he does will be enough.
He talks to God daily. Forever praying for stability and prosperity. He knows God hears him and that he can trust in Him.
He pours everything he has into his farm. He gives it his all. He leaves his blood, sweat, and tears where he works. He doesn’t do it for himself. He does it for the ones he loves. He does it for his family. For his wife and for his kids.
That is why the farmer is tired. That is why my husband is tired.
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