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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Unspoken Lesson from the Farmer: Take 'Er Easy & Give Thanks

  He’s been gone for six years this November, but his witty comments and advice pop into my head at random times.  It makes him seem closer, and it makes me so thankful.  Each year as this month approaches, it hits me—that cold air and that cold feeling that I have been running around so fast that I forgot to stop and appreciate it all, to “take ‘er easy”.

Farmers have a lot of lingo that some of us don’t understand, and “take ‘er easy” is one of them.  When I was little, I used to think he was saying “take her greasy” and thought he was such a weirdo.  Once I grew up I realized that he was saying “take ‘er easy”, “take it easy”.  
What he was really saying is “slow down, Katie.” 

 I never fully understood my dad until he was gone after that November night on the farm.  While I always appreciated him and his occupation, I never really slowed down enough to stop and give thanks as much as I should have. 

Just like many of you, I am usually rushing to get to work or home to a million other things to do.  It’s hard to think about others in the hustle and bustle of life and to be thankful for the people that help make our lives a little easier.  Do we stop to slow down to be thankful for the people that pick-up our trash or mow the grass along our roads so we can see?  Do we ever stop and realize we have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world?  We can get bananas and tomatoes any time of year, but most people don’t understand how they got to our grocery stores or kitchen tables.  

As a farmer’s daughter, I always give thanks for the food on our table.  But sometimes I forget to give thanks for the people that brought it to us and the safety God gave them to do so.  We sometimes are so concentrated on the “what” that we forget about the “who”.  It takes more than a tractor to farm.  It takes hard work, determination, patience with the weather, and knowledge of seed varieties, insects, diseases, soils, crop protection options, weed control and more.  And this doesn’t include the animals that farmers may be caring for in their pastures.  Farmers from around the world are the “who” we need to thank for that food on our table and the variety of options we have for our families.  

Fall is in full swing and the holidays are just around the corner.
This November, take a minute to slow down and be thankful.  Tell someone you are thankful for not only what they do, but for who they are because your life is better, safer or more productive and blessed because of them.  I’m really hoping to “take ‘er easy” as I give thanks for my dad and all that farmer lingo that teaches me to slow down. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dodging Cow Pies

 I drive to and from the city each day and hear lots of sounds.  
But nothing is like the sound of a combine humming behind our house.
Yesterday, I came home to the hum of 3 different combines coming from three different directions, and I embraced the sounds while they lasted.

While there is so much to embrace during the harvest, there is a lot to dodge.

I dodge a lot of cow pies on our lane while I take walks.
They seem to not care if you step in them, but they do care that I am in their way.

I dodge my inner caregiver by making countless sandwiches.

I dodge my anxiety about safety for my husband and the other farmers while drinking lots of wine.

I dodge the fact that this is not the time of  year to make "honey do" lists.

I try, really try, to dodge long conversations and updates about my day while I deliver dinner and when he comes home really late.

I dodge the fact that this has been the only place I have seen my husband in a week.
But I embrace the beautiful sunsets we can watch together even if it's for 30 seconds.

When you're married to a farmer, you have to embrace the chores that you usually try to dodge. 
For me, that would be taking the trash to the farm, feeding the dog, and mowing the grass.

I have to dodge the tall grass that is finally growing around my new walkway, finally.  Because really I am still trying to dodge not getting on the lawn mower.

But I get to embrace 10 minutes here and there when the farmer calls and says, "get your camera, we're headed to the pasture."  We took a few moments this harvest to feed the cows some buckets full of immature soybean pods that weren't ready for harvest.

I try to dodge laundry by going to fancy parties at our Indiana State Museum and celebrating our Indiana history.  What's great about our history, is that it always includes farmers and agriculture.

When I arrive home I try to dodge the boys from seeing me taking photos.

When I am in the city, I don't dodge from telling our story about the farm, agriculture and harvest.
In fact last week as I sat in the city at a dinner while my farmer sat in a tractor, I embraced conversations about GMOs, antibiotics in livestock and the fluctuating grain market.

While I don't get to ride along in the tractors and trucks often, I never dodge opportunities to embrace our farm life and from educating people about agriculture.

And while the cow pies on my walks are getting harder to see as the sun sets earlier, 
I have embraced the fact that I might step in one.  

It's "just part of it" as dad would say.  
So I just go along and step in them so I can embrace the sounds of the farm as I watch the beautiful sunsets.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Harvest Widow

Last night I sat down after making 7 brown bag dinners, drank some wine and prayed that he would come home safe.  And I was thinking about all the other women who are in the fields or at home waiting on their farmers too--
The Harvest Widows.

I'm also thinking of my mom, the farm widow.

Harvest is the most difficult time for many of us on the farm.
I wrote this article in Farm Indiana in honor of them and said many prayers this fall for them, 
The Harvest Widows.


My favorite season is fall with the crisp air, crackle of a campfire and crunch of the leaves beneath my feet.  Every year the trees surprise me with their bright, vibrant colors and they remind me to enjoy the moment and breathe that fresh, crisp air while it lasts.

October is the month when fall becomes real, when the favorite fall things become part of our daily lives.  For some of us, the anxiety, rush of emotions and longing to see our significant other are more prevalent and real during this fall month more than other times of the year.  The some of us would be 
The Harvest Widows.

As you read this, there are probably farm wives out there preparing themselves for a long day, night or week ahead without seeing their farmer husbands very much.  There are some of us that make what seems like endless meals to take to the field.  Some of us haul our farmers from one field to the next and others help in the fields right alongside their husbands.  We always make sure there is enough coffee or energy drinks around this time of year and plenty of wine for ourselves.  Our endless loads of laundry and washers fullof farm treasures don’t deter us from supporting our farmers.  And we won’t truly sleep until we know they are home safe, sleeping beside us while we watch them lying awake with our anxiety about what the next day may bring. 

I take pride in my role as a Harvest Widow because I married a man who is working the land to produce food for others and to sustain a family farm for generations to come.  Working the land is a privilege not many of us have and the farmer takes care of it for his family and yours. 

While I talk about being a Harvest Widow to try and explain to people what real life entails being married to a farmer during the fall months, I forget that my mother is a widow who actually lost her farmer during harvest. 

 The air was crisp that night and I was on my way to a campfire when the call came about my dad.  I don’t remember the leaves beneath my feet cracking as I raced across the barn lot and yards that night, but I know they were there.  For some reason, the leaves every fall since that day have been more beautiful and colorful than the last, probably a sign from my dad to slow down and take a moment to enjoy them. 

Each year when fall harvest approaches, I say a pray for all of the farmers and their safety.  I even say a prayer for those that don’t work in agriculture but drive alongside tractors and combines on the road because it can be dangerous so please, be careful out there.  But my thoughts and prayers always include the harvest widows, the women that support and care for the farmers, and the women who have lost their farmers.  I’ll be thinking about them a lot this month as I sit outside drinking my wine listening to the combine’s hum in the distance and taking a moment to watch the leaves turn colors.