I jokingly told one of my nephews this is the season for me to get away with writing a great ornery column about him because, as a farmer with a ton of field work to do, he will never in a million years find the time to read it.
This is the type of spring that creates stress piled on top of frazzled nerves. With the arrival of mid-May, every farmer I know is feeling the need to push hard through any window of opportunity.
I remember one season very similar to this. My sister had just gotten her driver’s license. She let it be known that now she could help Dad get moved to the field. I, as the kid sister, insisted on tagging along.
At some point in the jostling of equipment to rental farm ground the farthest from home, he ended up in the passenger’s seat with my sister driving. I noticed him leaning back hard several times, seemingly bracing himself or trying desperately to find a brake pedal on his side.
After he simply couldn’t take it any longer, he said, “Whoa! What’s your hurry?” to which my sister replied, “You just said you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I’m just trying to help!”
He smiled and pointed to the state road marker “179” and said, “I want to be clear. That is not the speed limit.”
He said he was going to have to put a governor on the vehicle. I pictured some old silver-haired politician riding with her everywhere she went and made up my mind when I was old enough to drive I was going to play my cards smarter.
Spring that year went from cold and wet to hot and humid practically overnight and the field grasses came on like gang-busters.
I remember Dad listening with extra intensity to each weather report. Does a fellow keep planting or take time out to mow hay?
Add any type of equipment breakdown to this mix and it’s headache central.
Sometimes the decision gets made for you, Dad said, often in the form of implement trouble. While he would send someone to run for parts, he would keep turning wheels where he could. He knew he could rely on us to get the milking done twice a day.
One often-repeated motto was ‘the first planting done doesn’t necessarily guarantee the finest crop’ but that still didn’t take the edge off of wanting to make steady progress. Over the years, he began coming to the house for lunch rather than eating on the run from a dinner bucket. Why work so hard that you can’t even enjoy sitting down at your own dinner table?
It was the season he enjoyed the very most; a fellow can’t wait to get started, but soon finds himself looking forward to getting it all done.
Here’s hoping to steady progress tempered with enough down-time to stay safe out there. Happy planting season, everyone.