When the calendar turns to May, every farmer I know comes down with the fever to turn wheels and kick it in to high gear.
One day last week, I had the good fortune to enjoy lunch with several farmers I’ve known all my life. It was a gloomy, rainy day with such chill in the air it seemed ice and snow was a possibility.
In other words, the only thing anyone could do about field work was talk about it.
I sat with Bill Cameron, a good salt-of-the-earth guy who was a friend to my dad. I thought I already knew the answer, but I asked him, “Do you still get excited to start planting? Is it still fun?”
It’s still fun! Even if Bill had chosen not to answer this in words, his expression said it all. He lit up with a big smile and said, “Yeah, it’s still fun.”
He thought for a minute and then he said, “You know, it’s crazy, and I don’t know why this is, but a farmer gets all excited to start but then ya are just as happy to get done. Why is that?”
My brother-in-law Dave Harpster, answered, “Maybe because your memory finally kicks in and you remember just how much work it all really is!”
Bill laughed and said, “You know, you might be on to something there!”
Juggling farm duties. For many years, Bill worked planting around milking times, and his hard-working wife Karen helped to make it all possible.
Endlessly, the milking, the calves, the feeding, cleaning, planting and spraying, mowing and maintenance and harvesting all managed to get done.
I asked Bill not long ago if he misses milking cows. “Kind of like you might miss a toothache,” he answered.
If ever a man was built to farm, it was Bill Cameron. Offer him free tickets — to anything — and he would say it’s too far to go even before he asks where it is. Ask him if he wants to get dressed up and go out for dinner at a high-dollar restaurant and he will tell you he’d really rather not. Travel is out of the question.
“Everything I could ever possibly want to see or do is right here,” he has said.
He tells me he and his wife recently tore up the carpeting in their house — perfectly good carpeting, still fine after being put in back in the 1960s — and polished the hardwood floors underneath. His expression tells me he still misses that old carpet.
Next on the list is a kitchen project, which includes removing kitchen cupboards, replacing them with new.
“Ya know, I don’t think those new cupboards are gonna do any tricks or anything that the old cupboards don’t already do,” he says as he shakes his head.
Someone pipes up, “Karen deserves all of that and more for putting up with you all these years!”
Cameron lights up with a smile which conveys the fellow just might be on to something, but he only says, “But I’m a poor man now!
Who’s the lucky guy who gets to buy my lunch?”
A couple of weeks from now, planting fever will completely take over and the noon meal will be a sandwich and a few snacks in a lunch box, so I had best hurry up if I’m going to win the prize of picking up the tab.