Today I am thankful to my friend, Doug, for sharing his words of gratitude. It has been a challenging year for so many farmers. Thanks again Doug–you and your family are part of why I love our small-town, farming community.
Most of you have heard the Dodge ad featuring Mr. Paul Harvey’s voice from a Super Bowl a few years back. I can remember the exact spot where I was sitting when I heard it first. My friend Evi was sitting next to me, and I think we both thought of our dads. I still have “seasonal allergies” when I hear it played.
This harvest for our farm is now officially the longest that I have been involved with. Generally, when we start harvesting in September, harvest would conclude before now. We have finished in December before, but those harvest seasons started in October. Christmas music in a combine does not bring a sense of joyful holiday wishes and thoughts; it’s more of a stark realization that time is running out, and we need to get this “stuff” over with.
I farm with my parents, my wife, and our two sons. Being a family business has a great deal of rewards and challenges. Any business arguments will carry over to the home and vice versa. Communicating is the number one job skill for us, and unfortunately the one we fail at the most frequently. I am sure we are not the only family alone in that failure.
Any profession has its ups and downs, successes and failures, and from my vantage point, we focus on the failures more than success. I don’t think that’s unique to farming, but like any in-home business, those reminders of a bad day can be right out the front door or follow you inside. A shirt covered in bovine amniotic fluid from a bad night calving, jeans that wreak of smoke from a hay trailer that caught on fire and shut down highway 41 for two hours, or cuts and bruises on your arms from a combine water pump that had anger issues, are reminders of days that went more off the rails than on. Sometimes the isolation of this job has its time for quiet reflection, and other times that isolation manifests the failures into more weight than one can carry . . .
That’s where my gratitude has kicked in lately. Often, things that seem beyond my control can be brought back by reminding myself, “I got into this mess and I can get myself out.” If I can’t, call someone and ask for help: physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. I am grateful to work with dad and the rest of my family every day.
These are things that I’m grateful for this harvest: my wife and kids that feed calves almost every night, grandmas who run combines with their grandsons, long text conversations that make me laugh, Mountain Dew, diesel engines that start in ten degree weather, being voluntold to do this writing, and warm suppers.