Friendships on the Farm

This summer, Farmer Dan and I find ourselves approaching milestones that remind us that we’re much closer to 30 than 20: Our 10-year high school reunions.

The arrival of our reunions caused us to pause and reflect upon the friendships that we have formed throughout the years. Dan and I have been blessed to find some irreplaceable lifelong friends during high school and college. Although most of them do not come from a farming background, our best friends have developed a special bond to the farm and have proven their willingness, time and again, to throw on boots and pitch in at a moment’s notice. From Dan’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers helping him walk beans in the summer, to his friends hopping in the tractor and keeping him company as he baled late into the night, there’s never been a moment when we haven’t felt supported and loved by the people in our life.

I remember vividly one stormy Saturday morning when a cow that hadn’t calved at home broke out and started walking toward the rest of our herd at pasture, followed by two bulls. Dan raced outside and hopped on his four-wheeler in the pouring rain, followed by Dan’s fraternity brother Robb, who was two steps behind him, helping him guide the cattle home. It amazed me in that moment that there was no hesitation that he would be out there helping Dan in the miserable weather – it’s just who he is.

Another year, a hunter left a gate open at the pasture and the herd decided it was time to make the three-mile trek back home a week early. At the time, we were entertaining one of Dan’s best high school friends at our apartment in town when we got the call in the middle of the night that 100 of our cow-calf pairs were scattered between the pasture and the farm. Dan and his friend Ben raced out to the farm in the middle of the night to see what they could do, and at dawn’s first light they were already hard at work, with Ben driving a tractor with a feed wagon for the first time in his life as Dan herded them home.

These are just a couple of many examples of the extraordinary lengths our friends have gone for us in times of need. When you befriend a farmer, it comes with the understanding that plans can be changed at the drop of a hat (the same goes for marrying a farmer!) I’ve lost count of the number of times we arrived late to an event because fieldwork still had to be done, or we missed a wedding ceremony because a calf was being born. When I RSVP to an event, I half-kiddingly throw in the caveat “pending farm emergency.”

When you befriend a farmer, it comes with the understanding that plans can be changed at the drop of a hat (the same goes for marrying a farmer!)

Because on the farm, emergencies happen more often than not. When the cows get out, they have to be attended to right away.  When hay needs to be baled and it looks like rain, it doesn’t matter what you had planned – plans just got changed. For Dan, who lost his dad to cancer before he came back to take over the farm, there’s no one left to share responsibility with when emergencies do arise.

And for us, it’s why we cherish our friendships so much. Our friends have proven to be the kind who sticks around, through thick and thin. They understand that the farm takes priority over almost all else. They listen when times are tough, and celebrate with us when times are great. In my handful of years as a farmer’s wife, I’ve learned that the life of a farmer can be difficult, but with great friends and family by your side, it’s easy to find joy in the midst of the trials.

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