Joe has been full time farming for three planting seasons, and in those short years we have had one picture perfect, bumper crop, crazy yield year (the first), one where it never stopped raining and was so stressful we all wanted 2009 to be over and done (sorry, Amelia. . . born that June), and then this year, which has yet to be labeled. After finishing with corn last night, Joe came in, did the hand clasp victory move and proclaimed, "This IS fun!"
What guy wouldn't want to work with large equipment, be outside, and play in the dirt for most of his waking hours? What manly man doesn't feel a sense of accomplishment when he hefts large bags of seed (well, not us. . . we're in bulk now!! Whoo-hoo!) off of pallets and into the planter? What man isn't interested in four wheeling around a pasture on a perfect spring day, scoping out what calves have been born that day?
I'm not trying to be sexist, by just referring to men, but in my limited experience, Joe's friends (the men) seem to hang on nearly every word when he explains what a "day in the life of Farmer Joe" is like. Most of these men have somewhat agricultural backgrounds, but even those from the city have many questions regarding equipment, livestock and the like.
I guess the lure of farming to those not in the actual production agriculture biz is that is seems like fun. It would appear to some "outsiders" that it would be relatively stress free, have a flexible schedule, and would be great to own acres and acres of land. This is true, it would be nice to have all these things, but as a young, starting farming family, we don't have a lot of these amenities. With self employment comes no company insurance, a huge line of credit with the bank, and cash rent or sharecropped land. As a new farmer, we don't have the built up experience to know that some years are tough and some are great. We just freak out when it rains buckets, and watch with bated breath out our kitchen window as the wind threatens to knock down growing corn in our backyard. . . that was NOT a fun dinner time conversation.
I was a first year teacher some years back, and was hysterical most of my first semester, having NO idea what it was like to really be a teacher. At the mercy of 21 sixth graders, it some times was comparable to being a newly trained lion tamer. However, by the time I was ready to quit, after having our first child, I had finally figured some things out. Isn't that just the way?
Anyway, like teaching and any new experience, home, community, for that matter, it takes time before it becomes less "work" and more "fun." We are finished with corn in a timely manner, there were no big breakdowns, debacles, or much hysteria. It was fun, and that is exciting. Joe has a few years under his belt, and therefore, can enjoy fun planting seasons like this one.
Although farming is a different type of stress, with depending on God, the weather, and the grain/livestock markets, and whatnot, shouldn't all jobs be considered fun most of the time? Shouldn't work not feel like "work?" In theory, yes, but that doesn't happen much around here. It just feels like we're walking on eggshells.
My hope for the bean planting season, in the next few weeks, is that it will be written in our record books as one that was fun (and maybe even a little profitable come fall!).