Cherish the Experience

Farmer Dan likes to remind me that, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

I’ll admit, it’s been a hard lesson to learn for a strong-willed youngest child who likes to have control over her surroundings and never quite mastered the art of patience. So I suppose it’s only fitting that I end up on a farm, where there’s little I can control.

Not the weather.

Not the breakdowns.

Certainly not the time when the farmer makes it in for dinner. That was one of the first of many hard lessons I learned when I became a farm wife, and boy, has our marriage been happier ever since. I also learned that dinner actually means supper and it can be served at 5 p.m. or 11 p.m. or any time in between – but it only counts if meat is involved. And by meat, I mean beef.

Even though I’m slowly learning to accept that life on the farm is going to be as unpredictable as it is wonderful, the last month has been one of those challenging times when I am again reminded that I am not in control. It started with the lawn mower, when a hard-to-replace bearing broke, leaving the mower stuck right next to the side of the road where it sat for nearly a month as we scrambled to find a part.

Then the dishwasher motor burned out. There was an electrical malfunction with the lighting in our house. The tractor’s air conditioning went out. The hay continually got rained on. And when the bearing was finally fixed on the mower, the transmission went out, effectively turning the mower into scrap metal.

Of course, every farmer has a trick or two up his sleeve when it comes to making the best of a situation. When Dan called and told me that he had a solution to our mowing tribulations, I admittedly was thinking more along the lines of a repairman than the replacement heifers we brought home for pregnancy checking partitioned by some temporary electric fence. But I have to give credit where credit’s due- the lawn looked better than it had all month.

If these mishaps have taught me one thing, it’s that farmers have remarkable levels of patience and the wonderful ability to turn troubles into blessings. Too much rain means longer pasture life for the cows and healing for ground still affected from the drought in 2012. Long grass means a strong root system. A hot tractor cab must mean sweating off a few pounds, so could we have extra steak for dinner, please?

I’ve often wondered how farmers can remain so optimistic even as they face tremendous uncertainty and difficulty. No matter how much they plan, something is bound to go wrong almost every day. An animal gets sick, it rains too much or too little, equipment breaks down, or the frost comes too soon. But I’ve come to realize that farming’s not just a job, it’s a way of life. And you can worry about the little things, or you can appreciate the adventure and enjoy every second of the farm life.

Patience will probably never come naturally to me, and my days of list-making and planning are far from over. But there’s a reason I met and married a farmer. If anybody could teach me how to let go of the small stuff and just cherish the experience, it’s my farmer. And that’s something I’m counting on.

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