Farming is tough work. It’s tough, dirty, sweaty work that ends in nights filled with tears, deciding which bills not to pay, and falling asleep on the couch while waiting for the weather report. It’s cancelling vacations because you’re behind on that season’s crop, it’s languishing over the newest pest that’s decimating that crop, and it’s fixing tractors by flashlight while trying to harvest that crop. It’s defending your work day in and day out to people who think that your efforts trying to feed the world are wrong and that milk, wheat, and eggs are made at the grocery store. It’s just plain tough.
When your life spent making safe, wholesome food is so tough, why bother doing it? It’s not for the money, the fame, or the fabulous lifestyle of muddy boots, holey pants, and greasy shirts.
While other kids will look up to professional athletes and musicians they’ll never meet, my kids will look up to their father, their grandfather, the tractor tire repair men, the seed salesman, the trailer hauler. People who get their hands dirty, make no money, and still show up at 2 a.m. when everything is falling apart. They’ve never posed for photo shoots, they’ll never be asked for an autograph, and yet my children will know all of their stats. Their hometown, their phone number, and down-to-the-second times on how quickly they can make it to the farm for a broken down truck, a blown tractor tire, or a calving emergency.
My children will truly see God’s work up close—through the birth of a calf, the recovery of a hen, and the playfulness of a piglet. They’ll dread and respect the wrath of storms, crop death by droughts, and the hard winter freezes. But when the light shines through the clouds, the spring brings newly rejuvenated pastures, and our bills are somehow miraculously covered, they will bow their heads, take a deep breath, and be grateful for all this life has to offer.
In our family, spring will be spent jumping in mud puddles, caring for a new batch of baby chicks, and looking for four leaf clovers while putting in fence. Summer will be a time for late nights spent in a cab tractor pulling wagons (that’s been retrofitted with welded on brackets to hold car seats), hot dog roasts in the lawn in between loads of hay, and spraying each other with hoses as we get our animals ready for the show at the county fair. Fall will bring four-wheeler rides, learning how to calculate acreage and soil samples and lime application rates, boarding up barn windows, and taking in the changing landscape colors as we harvest the last of the season’s vegetables. And in the winter, we will breathe in the cold air, thaw frozen water pipes with hair dryers, and use straw, baling twine, corn cobs and carrots to build snowmen, snowcows, and snowtractors.
Our family will laugh over accidental falls in the mud, cry over the loss of an animal, and be at peace when the work is done at the end of the day. We’ll bow our heads in the sun, wipe our foreheads in the rain, and watch our icy breath in the snow. My children will see their parents roll up their sleeves and get the job done. They’ll know how to balance a checkbook, balance feed rations, and balance a bucket of eggs, a pail of water, and the earmarked seed catalog as they get off of the bus and head to house, but not until they’ve stopped in at the barn first.
They’ll live this life knowing that it’s more than a job; it’s a lifestyle, it’s a passion that flows in their blood, and it’s an honor.
We’ll never make any money, we’ll never experience a spontaneous weekend getaway, we’ll never have a clean house. For this life is not an easy one. But, we’ll be able to raise our children on this farm, in this life, together. And that is the greatest gift that we can give them.
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