Recently, a fellow farm wife asked me, “Was marrying a farmer what you expected?”
I thought back to the summer before my farmer and I were married. In the evenings after work, I would drive out to the farm, park my car, and hop into the buddy seat of the combine. Butterflies popped up in my stomach as my arm brushed against his tan, muscular arm. He had one hand on the wheel, with his eyes focused on the field in front of him. Our conversations ranged from wedding plans to harvest and the yield from the crop. (The farm talk mostly went in one ear and out the other.) It was just us, and we had our whole lives in front of us.
The sunset—lighting the prairie sky on fire, painting it red and orange. A beautiful contrast against the amber waves of grain rolling ahead of the sharp blades of the combine header.
Eventually, the bright colors began to fade, giving way to a night sky. He still had more cutting to do, but I stepped down the ladder at the edge of the field. Turning to wave to him, I pulled my jacket around me—the heat of the day yielding to a cool summer evening. I went back to my apartment where the dust bunnies were full of dirt, no cow manure or stray wheat. And my dryer vent only had lint—no kernels of wheat or straw mixed in with the blue lint.
Shaking my head at the memory I replied, “You know, I don’t know if I knew what to expect.” Then I laughed.
“Farm life had a romantic feel to it. But I wasn’t living on the farm, I could come and go. I didn’t know what I was getting into.”
My mind wanders to the last seven years. My heart swells at the pride I now feel seeing our combines full of wheat, dumping into the grain cart. The big, blue sky wide open above the golden grain fields. The trucks roll through the fields, bringing the crop to the grain bins. I think back to my first harvest when I saw all of this happening—it was an amazing sight to see. But now I know it’s a choreographed dance—everyone plays an important role. I know the hours my farmer spends planning which crop to plant in each field, watching the weather to know when the best time to seed is. I know the amount of time he spent putting the tiny seeds into the fertile soil. Then praying for the rain to come.
During the cold, winter months when the blistering heat of harvest feels a million miles away, our barn is full of cows and calves. Their warm breath fills the cold space in their pens, and you can hear the sound of their tails swishing against their backs. I’ll never take for granted the beauty in seeing a new calf take its first breath, then watching them wobble through their first steps. The pens are full of clean yellow straw—put there by strong arms and backs, breaking a sweat, despite the frigid temperatures.
No one told me the amount of pride I would take in bringing a full meal to the harvest field.
The hours I spend in the kitchen with sweat dripping from my brow. I never imagined the effort it takes to keep the food hot on the bumpy gravel roads from my house to the fields. I never expected how it would feel to drive into a field knowing their stomachs are growling—a hot meal a welcome break in their long day.
I never dreamed how much I would love seeing my kids covered in dirt, mud, and cow manure. Their days spent in the sun, watching the equipment go by our house. Or the days they spend with their dad in the field, waving goodbye to me—their lunch boxes in tow. Or the time they spend with me in the cab of a tractor or running to town for parts. I never knew how proud of my son I would be when he could name any piece of farm equipment (correcting me if I misspeak), and how he knows what crop is planted in each field.
Looking back to that first harvest—I was too in love with a farmer to think about the farm.
But maybe that was for the best, because how do you put into words how hard and wonderful it is—all at the same time.
I smile at my friend and say, “No, it’s not what I expected.”