A funny thing happened on our Sunday drive.
Sunday afternoon drives through the country used to be pretty common in our neck of the woods. I remember being “tortured” by Sunday drives as a kid. With five children, Mom and Dad and, most of the time, Grandma and Grandpa crammed into the station wagon, those drives were a test of our self-control and familial love. The only Sunday drives I appreciated were the ones that ended at the Atz ice cream shop in a neighboring town. We’d swing open the back door of the station wagon and sit with legs dangling while savoring an ice cream cone. The ice cream was worth enduring the drive.
When our own four boys were little, our Sunday drives were usually the trip to and from church. Afternoon soccer games, youth group, chores and other priorities kept us from even thinking about taking a drive with no special purpose or destination. Even with our empty nest, my husband and I don’t often take Sunday drives. Today, however, we needed a few things in town and we wanted to swing by the farm where he grew up to see his Mom and Stepdad. So, we went for a Sunday afternoon drive.
We live on a hundred acres that a neighbor farms for us while we run an agriculture-related business, but my husband grew up on a REAL farm where they raised crops and hogs. I would hardly call us farmers, although when we first bought the farm, my husband tried a season of harvesting his own crops with an antique combine. He quickly decided it was an inefficient use of his time. Over the years, we’ve had a few steer in our pasture, more than a few 4-H calves, some hogs and chickens, and gardens that could feed three families. Still, we haven’t really considered ourselves farmers.
Today, as we drove down country roads at the peak of harvest, I began seeing our place in this rural community with different eyes.
We slowed down several times to make our way around a tractor or combine traveling from field to field and when we pulled down the dirt road leading to my husband’s homestead, we saw his brother combining soybeans. My mother-in-law’s red Jeep was parked along the road so that she could take a couple of laps around the bean field with her son.
After Mom returned from her combine ride, we sat at the kitchen table, catching up on family news and finding out how harvest is going. With good weather holding for a couple of days, the guys should be able to stay on target to be done by Thanksgiving. In a farming household, the days of spring and autumn are counted by how much planting or harvesting can be accomplished between sun-up and sundown, and sometimes late into the night.
Driving home at sunset, I had an epiphany — I finally feel like a “farm wife”.
I don’t have all the credentials and experience of most farm wives. I’ve never stayed up all night to help birth pigs, or risen at dawn to do chores in the barn. And I haven’t had to sit in a truck cab waiting for it to be filled so that I can make another trip to the grain elevator. But our farm-based business provides a product livestock farmers depend on. It’s our contribution to the industry.
It’s taken 20 years for this small-town girl to settle into and really appreciate rural life. It’s not that I haven’t admired and respected my husband’s heritage. I proudly claim that we can’t see a single neighbor from our front porch, and I even kind of like the distinct smell of manure mixed with straw. But until recently, I’ve never fully OWNED this lifestyle.
This evening, I saw beauty in the corn stubble, and in the bean dust swirling around a green combine as it cut away this year’s crop. Seeing the grain trucks and carts sitting ready to load corn or beans for a trip to the elevator and knowing how late those trucks would run tonight, I thought of the hours, days and weeks of hard work that went into that harvest. There’s beauty in that, too.
That’s when it dawned on me: I claim farming as my heritage.
It’s a good feeling to truly KNOW where you fit in this world. Nothing much around me has changed, but I think there’s been a change in me. Somehow, somewhere along the way, God made me a farm wife, and it feels good. It just fits.
During the 2013 Superbowl, Dodge ran a commercial that is a sentimental tribute to farmers. With words from Paul Harvey’s 1978 speech “So God Made a Farmer”, here’s that commercial. It sums up what I know and what I feel about this lifestyle. Enjoy!