I should be writing a tribute to my dad and husband and father-in-law, but, instead, my husband, Farmer Joe himself has penned (or keyed) a guest post. I'm so lucky to have a husband who is not only a great match for me, but an excellent provider, educator, horse-player, and silly guy for my kids. We are so blessed.
Happy Father's Day, to all of you fathers out there, especially to my dad, father-in-law and all grandpas of ours. But a special thanks to our resident father. Thanks, Joe, from all of us for being a great dad.
Farm Fathers- For My Dad
Today is Father's Day, which is a perfectly fine Hallmark Holiday- low key and probably involving a cookout or other fine meal, which is a wonderful thing in my book! I asked my wife for there to be no purchased gift for me as we are working really diligently to "be lean" in our budget right now. But today, I was presented with the first of what I think will be several homemade cards and notes from my girls- They include prose such as:
Fathers Day Notes
Nok Nok, Hoos ther, Dad, Dad Hoo, Dad I Love you
Hoo Hoo luvs you, Anna dus, Anna dus
Kindergarten spelling is a hoot! And there is nothing that could have been purchased that would have made me any happier!
When we get older, we have a little more trouble expressing how much we love our family. Sure we can buy a $3.99 card at the store about how Dad likes to burp, take naps or play golf (my dad only does one of those three things- you guess!) but it doesn't capture the culmination of 36 years worth of experience, advice, guidance and example that he's provided to you.
Growing up on a livestock farm gave me an experience with my Dad and Grandpa that can't possibly be matched by any other lifestyle. From the time I was old enough to ride in the truck, I was with them every day. All summer. From the time I got home off of the bus until dinner (or after). Learning, watching, helping, doing. I've thought about them a lot this week. We just finished baling some hay, and I thought about how long it would be before I taught my daughter to drive a truck out in the middle of a hayfield, like my grandpa did for me when I was eight. Just yesterday, when we were at the Webel Farm, Anna wanted to ride up to the shed to see "Fluffy" the cat. She wanted to ride with my grandpa, and he told her "Hurry up, get in" in the exact tone and voice that I have heard him use a million times with me since I was her age. I chuckled under my breath and smiled. At 86, he's still hurrying everyone along.
Dad and I have always worked very well together, though even to this day, I probably can't keep up with him. I think I was pretty willing to do whatever job he assigned me to and tried to do the best I could to do it right. There was no shortage of instruction available from he or grandpa if something wasn't quite right, which led me to try to do things right the first time. To this day, I quote from Dad and Grandpa all the time to my employee and my kids about how it takes a lot less time to get out and close a gate than it does to get the cows back in if they get out...... While that advice was meant as specific to the job of closing a cattle gate, the lesson applies in a lot of areas of our life.
Working livestock together as a family also has always had a certain artistry about it. We've worked together so much that we can read exactly what the animals are doing and what each other are doing to know where to go, whether to push the cattle or fall back and give them space. In emergency situations, such as delivering a calf, after the first year or two of helping dad, it was almost like we could do it without even talking- both knowing what the other was doing next, knowing that we both knew what to do to save the calf and mother. Those situations taught character, responsibility and dedication to the animal.
Now that I'm a Dad of four little ones and living on my own farm operation, I look for opportunities to teach my kids the lessons I learned at their age. Lessons about life, and death. About doing your work first and playing later. About caring for the animal's needs and comfort even when it means sacrificing your own. I watch my 6 year old, and now even my 2 year old who wants to "check cows, Daddy?" and wonder if they believe, like I did, that their Daddy knows everything that there is to know (at least until they get about 16- then Dads get really smart again about the time you get to be about 22). And I believe that even at their age, they have the stockman's knack- Dad thinks it is hereditary- he's probably right again. And I wonder that if someday they will be able to work beside me with the same ease and satisfaction that we are doing it together. I miss that about not working with my Dad everyday.
But I guess I learned most from my Dad and Grandpa by watching them every day. Learning by what he did- how they handled animals, how they dealt with people, how they valued family and how they expected us to expect the most out of ourselves. So I guess what I've learned about being a father so far is that someone is watching all the time, and the way they feel about the world will be largely influenced by how I've handled the situations that come my way, and how involved they've been in that life. I believe that our family was blessed beyond belief by the Dad we have the privilege to grow up learning from, and who we still learn from everyday. And 30 years from now, if my kids feel the way about me that my brother, sisters, and I feel about our dad, I will be awfully proud to have carried on that legacy.
Nok Nok, Hoos ther, Dad, Dad Hoo, Dad I Love you
Happy Father's Day, to my Dad and all of the Dads who work so hard to do it the right way-
Grandpa, Dad, Jon, Joe