Wednesday, May 2, 2018

On Farming

It was about 9:15 this evening when it really hit me.  We had just finished planting the corn on our first farm, and I was walking from the north field back to my truck about a quarter mile away.  It was approaching the end of the gloaming, and in the general stillness the slightest wisp of breeze would kick up a tiny chill.  It would pass, and then I would feel the warmth of the soil radiating the stored solar energy of a beautiful May Day. That happened four or five times as I made that 5 minute walk. It was a good day.

It didn't start that way.  If you talked to me as late as 2:30, I would have had a tale of woe and frustration that stretched days as we'd managed to get 10 acres planted while neighbors seeded hundreds.  I was trying to repair yesterday's breakdown, and had just discovered that the part I ordered and that dad picked up this morning was the wrong one, and wouldn't work on our machine.  At that point, I was looking for a quick fix and dad, while expressing that immediate retirement was looking pretty attractive, said that we had waited this long, we might as well wait a couple more hours while he went to get the right part and do it right.

"Good enough never is."  That is the sales slogan at my town job, which also happens to be our family business.  It is a potent motto, but from this jaded engineer and farmer's perspective, good enough is good enough.  Dad left to get the part, and I went to work on my quick fix.  From my perspective, we could do the proper fix tomorrow when it was forecast to rain (although that may get pushed back to Thursday [and dad is right, we need to fix it correctly when we can, which I will try to do in the early morning]).  Within a half-hour we were up and running, and with minor slowdowns, were able to complete what we could reasonably expect to get done in what was left of the day. 

That is what I love about grain farming.  When you decide to try something that might not be ideal, you don't have to answer to anyone except family and maybe the banker.  Also, unlike almost every other job, there is a definite start and finish to crop production.  Sure, we are barely a sixteenth of the way to completing our seeding labor, but we got most of that done in less than seven hours from our lowest point at 2:30 to that moment where I felt the last remnants of the sun's work escaping to the atmosphere in the beautiful transition from day to night.  Few other jobs blend that physical feeling of accomplishment with the opportunity to experience nature in all its wonder and beauty.  I got to feel the warmth of the May sun, watch that sun set, and watch the moon rise.  And I got to feel the subtle shift of our work from frustration to success.

As I type this, this good day passes into the next one.  I am looking at an early start to a day that may bring rain, will definitely bring a careful balance of labor between the town job and the one that is done more for love than money, and may bring more frustration. But I am looking forward to another feeling of accomplishment as this new day fades into the next one. 

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