I did not grow up on a farm. I literally knew nothing about farming and had no plans on ever living on a farm. And because I wasn’t raised on a farm, it didn’t matter to me if it rained, if it was too windy, or if it was too hot or too cold. I was only concerned about the weather when a blizzard canceled school because I loved those days . . .
But . . . my high school best friend did live on a farm and her family raised pigs. And because she lived on a farm, it was expected that she help with pig chores on the farm. Her job? Help clean the hog barn EVERY Saturday morning. It didn’t matter if she had a friend stay overnight or not. Pigs still poop, therefore, the barn needs to be cleaned. Simply put . . . use a well-worn pitchfork and scoop out the manure-laden bedding and throw it out the door into a manure spreader. No technology. No automatic cleaners. Nada. None. Just old-fashioned manual labor. After the spreader was full, the manure was spread on cropland fields behind their house and used as soil nutrients.
One particular Friday night I stayed overnight at her house. And being the friend I was, I chose to go out with her Saturday morning as she cleaned the hog barn. I had no intention to help, but “reassured” her I would watch because I was the “city” girl who was not exposed to the realities of pig farming. After “seeing and smelling” what was required to clean the barn, I exclaimed, “I will never marry a hog farmer!”
God’s sense of humor
Well . . . you guessed it . . . I did marry a hog farmer. Don’t you just love God’s sense of humor?
Funny how things you say come back to bite you. And it’s funny how clueless I was about being married to a farmer. I remember before we married (which is now 41 years), I asked him how much money he makes farming. And for those of you that understand farming, you know that question is laughable and absurd. I soon learned the answer was always “it depends.” So believe me, as a person who thrives on planning, I was going into this whole “married life” pretty much blind and not using a lot of common sense. I mean, let’s face it. Where is the common sense in marrying someone who couldn’t tell you how much money they make?
But as they say, love is blind and I was as blind as you could get.
Passion for farming
I set out to learn what this farming thing was all about. My husband was so passionate about what he did every day and you know what? He hasn’t lost any of that passion yet today. And passion is contagious. Shortly after we were married, I started to learn all about this farming life and where his passion was coming from. The first thing I learned was how to drive a tractor (with no cab), which raked hay for the dairy cows. Not only did my husband raise a few pigs for a local veterinarian, but his family needed hay for the dairy cows. So I quickly learned what hay (alfalfa) was and why it was needed. Seriously, I didn’t know. I was starting at “square one.”
Born to farm
And I also believe there are people that are born to farm. My husband is definitely one of them. His mother told me a story (actually many, many times) about when my husband was a little boy. One Sunday, during a Christmas Sunday School church practice, the pastor asked him if he would like to be a wiseman for the nativity play. He immediately started crying and said, “No, I do not want to be a wiseman, I want to be a farmer!” He was worried the pastor was telling him he could not be a farmer!
Learning to Farm
My husband continued to slowly teach me, step-by-step, what it means to farm. He showed me what being a farmer meant. He showed me his compassion, passion and his drive to make things better on our farm and in this world. He was patient in teaching me the things I wanted and needed to know. He taught me how to drive a tractor. He taught me to drive and operate the combine. And to this day, harvesting crops is still my favorite farming activity.
And we work well together (Well, most of the time). The first year we were married and had our first income tax appointment, we showed up with a shoebox (not kidding) that contained all the invoices and receipts for the entire past year. I knew this could not continue. So that’s where I stepped in. That was the last year we showed up with a shoebox of receipts. For the first few years, entries were entered in a paper journal. Of course, all accounting records are computerized now.
God watched over us as he paired the two of us together. Even though we are opposites, we complement each other. Each of us has strengths the other doesn’t. Oh, the laughs God must have on our behalf! But I am so thankful and appreciative of my life now. It’s because of my life’s experiences and watching my husband’s passion for farming that I am so passionate about agriculture. I developed this passion through his eyes.
And some days . . . it just takes my breath away . . .
Happy Valentine’s Day!