Once upon a time I married a farm boy. I received much advice back then. “Never learn how to fix fence.” “Always say ‘I love you.’”
At first, there were ride-along picnics in tractors, but after the babies came, we didn’t all fit. He became busier with the farm as his dad grew sicker, and I became busier with sweet little boys playing with their own little tractors. Then our little boys turned into big boys and we’re running in different directions all the time on and off the farm.
Sometimes date night is just a beer in the barn. Or in the summer, it’s driving from cornfield to beanfield to check irrigation wells. Or munching on popcorn at a game watching our kids compete.
My sweetheart is a still a farmer. He might be hiding gray hairs under a ball cap, but watching him referee some youth basketball the other night reminded me of the boy I used to watch shoot hoops back in the glory days. Our oldest son shoots free throws with exactly the same mannerisms. Uncanny.
I’m no spring chicken either. We’ve been through a lot together, and having a farm together can be stressful. Bend – don’t break. Through illness, surgeries, funerals, massive hailstorms, seasons (like harvest) with no sleep, we’ve been stretched to our limits and bounced right back together again.
Sometimes I don’t know if I married a farmer or married a farm. Sometimes the farm is bigger than everything else. Surprisingly, there are times when I want to talk about ANYTHING but the weather, tractors, cows, and crops.
But most of the time, that’s what we love the most. No lie – when we were dating we used to look at bull sale magazines together. We talk about the grain markets. We talk about differing points of view from different grain brokers when it comes to grain markets. We talk about seed genetics. We talk about what changes we can make to do what we love better than the people before us with tools they would have only dreamed of. We talk with friends who farm who knowingly understand everything.
We imagine our little boys and big boys becoming big men, and wondering if any of them will choose this way of life and way of work to put food on the table. And food on your table.
What I didn’t imagine was that my farmer would work such late hours sometimes that he would fall asleep anywhere. Just one of his many talents. Even sitting on uncomfortable gym bleachers. But hopefully not in church!
I read a lot of beautiful blogs about newlywed farm couples. I see a lot of pictures of cute farm families with toddlers in tow. Each phase is wonderful, but eventually we all grow out of these stages, and what comes next can be unpredictable and not always picturesque. Every family is unique – and so is every farm. Communication is key in any family, but especially on a farm where sometimes farmers sometimes forget that we can’t always talk through hand signals. Working with a spouse is another dynamic, let alone if there are other family members involved in the farm. We grow more than food over the years; we grow our marriage.
And I always look up to my sweetheart farmer who puts his faith first, his family second, and his farm third. (Football is maybe fourth.) Life might not always be planned or perfect, but together, it’s always and forever, and I’m glad he picked this farm girl to share it with.