I'm a planner, and there are a mere 36 hours until we go on our little getaway, a very little getaway, but time away together, no less. I still have a list of things to accomplish before we head out, but my idea of preparing for a vacation and a farmer's are as different as the amount rain in the beginning of this summer and now the lack thereof.
It's that time of the summer when everyone and their brother are going somewhere on vacation, even farmers. Those who are grain farmers have a window of time during these dog days of summer to get away. The crops are in; the grain has been hauled (for the most part); and mowing is not imperative. Life is good.
Vacations for livestock farmers are a bit more of a trick. Once we started having cattle, I learned that even a simple day trip takes major planning and preparation to pull off. As a control freak and planner, I thrive on this. However, it's not just the basic reservations, destinations, and financing that make taking a trip possible. As a livestock farmer, we basically need babysitters for our cattle. Luckily, cattle are less labor intensive at this time of year, thanks to our spring calving season and good pasture for them to graze upon. However, Joe still has to line up the hired man to come out--often times on his day off-- to do the chores and look after our dog. There are basic chores to do but for the most part, Joe can leave without much hassle. However, there's a small piece of home that always gets packed with us whenever we leave: worry.
Fretting about what may or may not happen on the farm while we're away makes relaxing while on a vacation a trick. The farmers around here, and I'm sure more out in the rest of the rural world, never truly leave the "office at the office." There's no way to do so when your profession depends on the amount of rain in the gauge and sun in the sky. How does one ignore the weather? Thanks to the blessing (and curse) of technology, when we're away from our local news weather forecast, Joe's Blackberry radar screen is up and checked on a regular basis. Even though there's no way we can control any situation from hours away, the farmers around here can still worry and fret about the threat of rain or wind or even lightning. We learned the lesson that disaster strikes just as easily when you're sitting at a wedding, hours away, thanks to an unfortunate lightning strike. Said lightning hit a tree and then, consequently, 4 out of the 5 purebred cattle in our Simmental herd. Lucky Strike, the lone survivor lives on, as does the memory of the phone call, calling us out of a fun night with friends.
Anyway, I feel as if I am a kindred spirit to my farmers around here when any of us are getting ready to leave. They too are control freaks. Joe would much rather be there if a cow gets out to race across the road and get the cow in and repair the fence himself, rather than have the hired man, a mere 5 minutes away, take care of it. My dad would much rather be watching the torrential downpour and straight line winds from the comfort of his own living room, rather than hearing about it on his trip. In my short time researching this, I have found that puttering around home, really not doing a lot of time sensitive activities is much more relaxing for the farmers than hanging out at some silly, albeit beautiful beach, hours and miles away.
Maybe some day, when this farming thing gets easier and more second nature, we'll take our big family vacation and not have to check the Blackberry time and again. Instead, we'll bury our feet in the sand and note that it feels good to just relax.