Monday, November 24, 2014

Ticking Things Off the List

It snowed a little last night. Nothing like upstate New York (which is now flooding...and I think I have problems. Sheesh.), but it snowed nonetheless. So, this morning, after kids were loaded on the bus, I spent time (read:money) ordering snow boots for my kids (Land's End is 40% off today!)...and a pair for me (thank you, Athleta gift card!).

One thing off the list.

Are you a list maker?

I'm psychotic about it. In college, my roommate would tease me about my overabundance of post it notes, many of them planning my day, hour-by-hour, including time slots to eat and shower. I was a little crazed, but I rarely forgot to shower, because my list told me to!

Anyway, I still make lists.

Yesterday, our list included such fun things as organizing the craft closet and, while I don't make a note to shower, laundry is always on my list. My girls were able to make a "fun" list, too, once they got their chores done.

Our life is like a list right now. Since finding out about the babies, Joe switching jobs, and our house project, our list seems to be never ending. However, there are things that have been ticked off the list:

1) Babies born (check)
2) School started
3) House jacked up (check)
4) Cattle sold (check)
5) Harvest completed
6) House set back down (check)

Did you catch #4?
Cattle sold?
What the?
Aren't we a "working grain and livestock farm?" Isn't that what this blog is all about.

Well, here's the deal: Sometimes, life doesn't work out the way you plan, no matter what's on your list.

What a prophetic statement, huh? I'm so deep.

But seriously, there are times when you have this plan, and you think that you have all your ducks in a row, and then...

Not so much.

This is us and our farming agreement. While Joe had an excellent herd and a good working relationship with our landlord, sometimes, plans change. People change, and life gets in the way.

Farming is hard, friends. For those of you in agriculture already, you know this. You know the feeling of being a slave to the weather, following markets as they rise and fall, the feeling of pride as you look out at your crops or animals, and the feeling of fear as you watch a storm roll in. You know the exhaustion from a long night of calving in the cold, the tug when you're working and want to be home. The rewards are great, and the risk is even greater.

Joe felt this. All of this. We first started when he was working his corporate job. We had a hired man. We had flexibility. In time, this flexibility waned; the corporate job thinned and farming took over our life. While that's not all bad, for some, it's too much. Joe likes to be in control, and in farming, there's little one can control.

So we persevered. We tried. Joe built his herd into a great one, but it felt like the list could never be completed. There was always so much to do, so little time, never enough money, and when you can't ever feel "done," you can't ever get away. It can wear on one's psyche.

When the ag teaching position opened up, Joe carefully considered all his options. He made a list. He decided to make a go of it, and try to keep up with the farm as well.

That's a list not even worth making, as it's impossible to tick anything off of it, especially with a wife, twins on the way (at the time) and four other active kids who love their daddy and his time.

So, he made another list.

One that included walking away.

That was hard to swallow.

However, from my short time of blogging and being a part of agriculture, I have come to realize that to be involved in ag, one doesn't have to just have a list that includes checking calves and buying seed. Agriculture is a career genre that encompasses so much more, and is more of a lifestyle than just a "job." I have blogged otherwise, but have become wise thanks to my interaction with other non-farmer ag people.

So, a few weeks ago, Joe ticked off list item #4: selling the cattle. His half of the herd. Two nights at the sale barn, a great financial reward for the hours and days and years spent on these animals,

and a big lump in our throat.

It's weird.

Our list has changed.
Our life has changed.

Yesterday, we didn't go to church (again), but Joe and Jack played Batman and watched Sesame Street together.

They've never done that.

While I know that Joe likes his list to be full, this time to just breathe and enjoy the children we have and the job that he has from Monday to Friday is precious.

We'll be back in the cattle business, however. The kids will still show, as arrangements have been made with a neighbor for Anna's show animals until our space has been built. And, like many careers, cattle farming is something that's in your blood, and you can't get out.


Joe's list may have changed a bit, but our goal here to keep you all abreast of what life on the gravel road is like won't change. I'm grateful that while we may be stepping out of the production side of agriculture, we are still invested in the ag community, and that's what's awesome about it. There's no list of requirements to be welcome as a member of the agriculture community. Once you're in, you're in. No items to tick off to enter.

And I'm so grateful for that.

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