When it comes to making sacrifices, no one is more familiar with that than a farmer or rancher and their family. Planting season — especially with the water-logged spring we have had — has been a whirlwind. As a wife of a full-time row crop farmer, I get it. I get the late nights and the sacrifices that must be made. I get the long hours. I get what “go-time” means.
But what I tend to forget every year is the love. I forget the love my farmer has for me and the love he has for the job. I forget he can love more than one thing at a time. When times get tough — and they will — you must be able to look beyond the moment.
Eventually we get used to this crazy life, but there will always be those tough times. It is hard loving someone you can’t count on. I do not mean his morals or character; I simply mean his time. If it rains, he could be home early at 6 p.m. If it is going to rain tomorrow, it will be 11 p.m. before he walks through the front door. The biggest thing I have learned while being married to, or dating, a row-crop farmer is to be flexible and have open communication.
Even though I tried to prepare myself, it still happened — the tough time (or in my case, the time of weakness). I sat down and cried for two hours after he left for work this spring. Normally, I would join him and work side by side, but with my emotions more scattered than a child’s toys and having a previous engagement lined up, I couldn’t. I chose to be stubborn and wondered why he couldn’t just skip work and come with me.
What should have been a time of celebrating with my family, I was stewing over a lost cause. In my heart, I knew he needed to be on the farm. Farming is more than just a job, it is a way of life and a family affair. We hear that sentiment often, but it feels more accurate this time of year. My husband was working side-by-side with his dad and brother. We must remind ourselves that the pain that can come over us is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of love: love for the job, love for the family, and mutual love for this farm lifestyle.
A farm mom I know recently had the “talk” with her oldest son — and I don’t mean the one with the birds and the bees. This talk is the one where his dad wasn’t going to make it to his first baseball game of the season.
She prepared for the speech as she drove to school to pick him up. It was supposed to rain the following evening, so that meant it was “go-time.” Once she picked her son up, she started the speech. “Your dad really wants to make it to your game. He is going to try really, really hard to finish up as quick as he can so he can make it. We know you have been working really hard at practice. We are so proud of you! It’s just part of doing what you love and being able to farm. And that also means we sometimes have to sacrifice other things we love.” She even brought in some personal experience from her sports days when her own dad would be out in the crop field instead of in the stands, but that was a part of the farm life.
After tearing up a little and taking time to be gentle, picking every word very carefully, the mom wrapped up the story. After being quiet for the duration of the talk, the boy simply replied, “That’s OK, mom.” He understood the sacrifices that his dad must make in order to be successful, because one day he wanted to grow up to be just like his dad. Feeling like the talk was too easy and still feeling a little guilty, the mom offered to stop for ice cream to make sure everything was truly all right. The son said, “Mom, I’m OK, but do you need ice cream?”
Although times can get tough, we can’t let them get the best of us. We chose this life, and I would choose it again and again. Even when there are tough times, they are followed with joyful memories. I can’t imagine life without farm memories, and I can’t wait to raise our family on the same farm I grew up on.
There is something so special about spring time and the planting season. Planting, but farming in general, reminds me of an old saying that goes, “From the outside looking in, it is hard to understand. From the inside looking out, it is hard to explain.”