Just when I think I’ve got the hang of country living, reality hits.
I’m reminded of how much I still don’t know every time my husband Dan attempts to give me directions to a field or spot on the farm. He has tried repeatedly, to little avail, to teach me where our fields are located – but between my already-poor sense of direction and the confusing naming conventions, his efforts have largely been in vain.
“Could you meet me by Victor’s 80?”
“Victor’s 80. You know, the land once owned by my great-grandpa Victor. Go behind the shelterbelt and stay on that dirt road. It’s right by Hayland.”
“Wait, are you talking about a road or a path? And where the heck is Hayland again?” (Hayland, for the record, is a completely made-up name. Literally, it is land with hay. As if there wasn’t hay everywhere already!)
Or, “Could you bring me lunch? I’m planting Italy right now.”
“You’re WHAT? Where are you?”
“Planting Italy. You know, the six-acre parcel that is shaped like Italy. It’s part of Victor’s 80.”
And around and around we go.
Last month, I exposed my town kid tendencies again during our annual cattle chase, when we bring our cow-calf pairs home from the pasture where they have been grazing all summer. Located just three miles north of the farm, it is a straight shot from the bottom of the ranch to the pastures by our house. We walk the cattle home using a feed wagon, lots of helpers to block unfenced fields and Dan as the ringleader on his four-wheeler. This is the seventh year I’ve helped take the cows home, and yet once again, I found myself frantically peppering Dan with questions right before he takes off, like an ill-prepared student cramming before her final.
“Where is the creek you want me to stand by? Should I stay in that spot or move when the cows move? How long do you think this might take?” (The answer: Until it’s done!)
Eventually, he drew me a map with my designated spots on a napkin, which I studied repeatedly throughout the morning, breathing a sigh of relief when my dad (also a farm kid) told me he understood Dan’s directions. Crisis averted.
Though I do like to poke fun at town kids like myself for struggling with tasks that farm kids seemingly take for granted, I was also reminded during the cattle chase that those of us unaccustomed to farm life can sometimes see things that those entrenched in the day-to-day business might overlook. My brother-in-law Joel was on hand to help bring the cows home that day, and as he watched Dan stay behind the herd and patiently help one struggling calf make it up a hill, he saw beyond what others might have seen – wasted time, perhaps, or an expensive veterinarian bill. For him, watching Dan tend to the weakest of his herd painted a beautiful picture of how God cares for His people. He relayed this story to his church congregation on Sunday morning, saying, “If a farmer will do that for the lowliest of his herd, imagine what God will do for us in our times of trouble.”
If a farmer will do that for the lowliest of his herd, imagine what God will do for us in our times of trouble.
When I heard this, it struck me that while town kids may lack some farm savvy, we can provide fresh eyes and new perspective. There is value in having the uninitiated experience the farm life along with the veterans. If you didn’t grow up on a farm – something that’s happening to more and more of us as the number of farms dwindles– it can be difficult to understand what it’s all about. That’s why I’m always happy to see fresh faces on the farm that are getting a taste of what farm life entails – from the thankless hard work and never-ending stress that comes with crop and livestock, to the joys of a successful harvest and a healthy herd of cattle.
I’m sure in 20 years I will look back and laugh that I didn’t know how to find Victor’s 80. By then, hopefully we’ll be raising the next generation of farm kids, ones born with Dad’s farm savvy, but instilled with a sense of wonder that comes from their mother, a town kid by birth, a farm girl at heart.