Farming is not an easy life. You spend most of your days at the mercy of the weather and have animals that can get sick at any moment. Our jobs are to be problem solvers and if you haven’t learned to be flexible, you are going to have an even rougher time.
It’s no secret that last year was a pretty rough year here on the farm. Just about everything that could break did (see here and here). We were pretty fortunate on the animal front and didn’t have an excessive amount of vet bills, but we always have enough to keep the checkbook on edge.
When we first got into Miniature Herefords, one of the goals was to build our herd to the point that we could sell a few animals each year and pay for our kid’s Christian school education. Every year about this time we file our taxes and ask ourselves why in the world we do this. We would be farther ahead to just pay the tuition and forget the farm.
We made a lot of calculated decisions last year and purposely spent an unusual amount on new equipment. We budgeted for and justified the “new to us” equipment knowing that it will be part of the foundation of our operation for years to come, but we did not budget to repair every piece of brand new and “new to us” piece of equipment. By the end of the hay season, we thought we had broken all we could break…and then the JD 720 started blowing white smoke.
It was the last hay field of the year…just a few more acres to go. Isaac started the tractor and within a few minutes, he knew something was not right. He quickly shut her down and called Dad. Luckily he was just next door so he was able to slowly drive her home…were she sat until we came up with enough money to fix her. We spent our winter with a tractor split in half in our garage. The parade ready, recently rebuilt and restored tractor had a cracked head…and it wasn’t because of anything we had done. We suspect it was a shoddy repair from the restoration. But…with used equipment you always know the risks. This was just one surprise we were really not ready for.
We knew the bottom line was going to be bad this year…but looking at that final number just about did me in. And then our minds turned to all the things we could have done with all that money down the drain…
So why do we do this?
These two boys right here.
We moved to the country for a reason…and we raise our family on a farm for a reason.
Yes…those are two separate things.
As we have watched them grow and mature, and are now facing sending them out on their own, we see the effects of this way of life we have chosen. They have learned a work ethic that will never be questioned. We are constantly hearing comments and compliments of what hard workers they are and how they never stand around. Not only do they not stand around…they can’t tolerate watching other people stand around.
They have learned from farming that the work is never done, there is always something you can and should be doing, and you don’t stop until your head hits the pillow at night. That may sound harsh and exhausting…but they will be the first to tell you they wouldn’t have it any other way. As I am writing this… I have two down in the basement installing a furnace and one “helper” who is jumping out of his skin because there is nothing to “help” with right now. He wants to be doing something.
Our family loves showing cattle, but the show world can be brutal. I am not going to lie…we have seen some shining examples and we have also seen some of the ugliest things that I still can’t comprehend. Our kids have seen this too. We have always been very open with them and they are right here beside us…so that means they ride the highs and the lows right along with us. We have never sheltered them from experiences or difficulties. At times we have wondered if we should have protected them from some of the “bad” stuff, but I think the lessons they have learned have far surpassed the blissful ignorance of youth.
These experiences have helped to shape their character. They can choose the low path and compromise their character or they can rise about and let the strength of their character shine. Each and every day we all have choices. We have seen our kids make some very difficult decisions to chose the right road at a heavy price…because it was just the right thing to do. I have been humbled many times by the strength and simplicity of their choices. Sometimes we overthink and rationalize…but the innocence of their youth has even taught us that sometimes it is just as simple as right and wrong.
We have surrounded ourselves with a farm and cattle showing community of many like minded people. Back in the barns it is easy to forget that not everyone thinks the same or has been raised with the same work ethic and morals as these groups typically exhibit. It is when our kids have started branching outside our little world that we have really seen the effects this farm life has had on them.
Daniel and I are very aware that one kid is leaving in just a few months and the other is only a few years behind him. We have spent their whole lives building this life…and just when we feel like we are getting our feet underneath us…they are leaving. Where do we go from here? Do we keep working and growing for them to come back to the farm? Do we downsize to a level that we can manage on our own? We aren’t as young as we were when we started this venture…do we even want to do this anymore? Should we throw in the towel, save some money and just pay for their college educations?
We have taken many walks around the farm and had this same conversation countless times. But the answer is always the same.
We stop and look at what we have built and all we have accomplished.
Through all the highs and lows, we wouldn’t trade one minute of this life. It’s not easy and we have had many sleepless nights, but I can’t imagine raising our kids any place but right here on this farm.
Wherever our kids end up in life, we know that the foundations that have been laid here on the farm will take them far…and you can’t put a price tag on that.
To steal from the credit card commercial…
So, we are here for another year…and I am sure we will have many more of those same walks around the farm.
But…I suspect each conversation will end the same way…
This farm life has grown on us too…and I can’t imagine living my life any other way.
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Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.