People treat you how you let them treat you.
Read that again. This is a variation of a quote from Tony Gaskins. I heard it years ago and it has firmly stuck with me.
Here in Northeast Kansas, we are gearing up for planting season, which will roll in to hay season, which will roll in to silage harvest, which will roll in to harvest season, then drilling cover crops all while calving May/June cows and then fall cows. The point is, when the craziness starts, it won’t stop until after the snow flies. I imagine your operations are the same.
I dread the time change every year because I know it’s the unofficial start to it all. My Forever — the nickname I’ve given to my husband — is busy all year long, but especially during the long daylight hours. It takes its toll on our marriage. I work side by side with him on the farm. Big surprise, but we think very differently. I need something to look forward to, he gets excited about daily work.
Tip #1: Celebrate the ‘end’ of the seasons
I get it. The work is never done. But sometimes, we have to prioritize our relationships. When you get done with planting (or whatever season it is), at the very least go out on a nice date with your spouse away from the children. (I really mean a nice date! Look in to each others eyeballs and thank the other for the work they did. Put real effort in to reconnection!) If you want to get crazy, plan a night or two away from the farm. Celebrate the wins.
Be thankful you got through it and thank the people around you who helped.
Tip #2: Have a master board/note
We all think differently. We all have things that weigh on us differently. Have a spot in your house or a shared note on your phone about the things that are stressing you out. I love when My Forever is happy. I love being able to serve him by checking off things that are stressing him. But I don’t know those things unless he tells me, and normally when I want to do these things, he’s not into chatting.
If you have a list for each person, it’s easy to show them love when you have a minute. You know what exactly it is that you can do to make that person smile and breathe a sigh of relief.
Tip #3: Take care of yourself
This might seem counterintuitive in an article about relationship advice, but you aren’t going to show up in your relationship the way the other person needs if you are tired and grumpy all the time. I’m in the trenches with you. I absolutely know how hard it is to move your body when you spend all day in a tractor cab. Our bodies weren’t meant to be sedentary. Take a quick walk in the morning before it gets started. Take a break and walk while eating lunch. Seriously, anything. Move your body!
Speaking of food, try eating as much whole, unprocessed foods as you can. For My Forever this is easy. He eats what’s in his lunch box that I make for him. So far he hasn’t reached a point that it’s worth it to him to make his own lunch before he leaves for the day so it must not be terrible. In all seriousness, eat the fruits and veggies. Dollar Tree has a nice fruit/veggie holder that keeps them out of the moisture so they stay crisp and fresh all day. Avoid the sugar, it will just make you more tired. You’re asking a lot of your body during these seasons on the farm; treat it with respect and love.
People treat you how you let them treat you. There’s a fine line between being a forgiving spouse when something goes wrong and accepting this behavior toward you as something that you’ll be OK with for the duration. I absolutely know you’ll stop reading after this, but you cannot take the farm with you to your grave.
We all know there are “go” times on the farm that you have to work long hours, but for goodness sake, unless you want to be alone in life with your tractor, love the person you’re doing life with. Thank them. Acknowledge them. A few hours for a supper out on the town, goes a long ways in return work ethic. I wish you a happy, safe, healthy and successful season!
Kelsey Pagel is a Kansas farmer. She grew up on a cow/calf and row crop operation and married in to another. Kelsey and her Forever (Matt) farm and ranch with his family where they are living their dream and loving most of the moments