Take time to enjoy wonders of life


This is the season of celebration, and we are enjoying every minute of it.
With high school graduation ceremonies behind us, we focused on hosting a party here to mark the occasion for our son and our daughter. After planting as many flowers and plants as I could handle, the farm began to look like it was colorful enough to host a big party.
Party day dawned so beautifully that we all felt it could not have been more perfect. As friends and neighbors and family began arriving to celebrate with us, I felt like the luckiest person on the planet.
I can’t help but think how different the occasion is than the day on which so many of us turned the tassel on our graduation mortarboard.
For me, anyway, the day brought a feeling of accomplishment, followed by evening milking. If I remember right, I think we baled first crop hay the next day. That was about the extent of the marking of the event.
Susan Sarandon once said, “Children reinvent your world for you.” For me, raising my two children in the midst of all sorts of challenges and an entirely different world from my own childhood has been enlightening in so many ways. They truly have reinvented my world.
My father’s idea of a vacation involved perhaps a day off to attend a tractor show or an afternoon trip to a county agricultural fair. He raised us with the inclination to find hard work so enjoyable that vacations became a moot point.
His own grandfather had instilled in him the idea that only lazy bums or those very near death ever stretched out on a couch when the sun was up in the sky. Sleeping in past the sunrise was a ridiculous notion for the city slickers among us, prompting the question of how in the world those people avoided bed sores.
So, how do we go about teaching our children a happy, healthy balance of hard work and joyous play? While every parent in this society grapples with this issue to some degree, I find myself having a particularly challenging time of it.
For me, the days after high school graduation brought invitations to friends’ parties which I had to turn down, because a warm, sunny spring brought an abundant first crop hay that year, with a double dose of daily milking and a higher than usual number of springing heifers and their calves.
While I don’t feel particularly resentful of any of it, I also realize in retrospect that I missed out in many social circumstances, especially during my high school years.
And while my wonderful father had a softer side than any of this might portray, he was still decidedly hard-nosed in his old world German heritage that focused on hard work and very little play.
Good grades were expected, not praised. Graduation with honors was also expected, along with helping in the house and in the barns, seven days a week. Our pay was a bed to sleep in and good food to eat.
I have tried hard to not only find a balance for the sake of my children, but to also let me enjoy their experiences right along with them. I love it that they include me in their friendships and their fun, and I find joyous exhilaration in their happiness.
My sisters and I have often discussed the importance of building fun in to a life, and it was with tremendous happiness that my sisters and their families shared in the party here at our farm, along with about 200 other people. It was a day filled with laughter and love, and a happy celebration I will never forget.
Near the end of my father’s life, the realization of such things dawned on him, too. He encouraged us to plant flowers rather than all cash crops, and to take the time to enjoy the wonders of life.
To him, sharing events as a family was perhaps most important of all, whether it be work or play or celebration of accomplishments. I am trying to remember to do just that.
For each of you, I wish the very same.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.