|Post 60 Hours, a Farming Life in June
Together Mike and I run a farm operation and a family. Both of these endeavors are woven into our life and require massive energy, patience, and love.
Over the years, we have fine tuned an unspoken agreement. While we are intimately involved and hardworking in both of these endeavors, when push comes to shove, it’s Mike that pulls the long extra hours in the fields. It is I who pulls the long extra hours with the kids.
After a 60 hour work week at the farm, I’m craving my kids. I’m needing their little hands, perspective, and balance. If the weather demands extra work in the fields, and it means we can’t be together as a family of 5, I choose kid duty every time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my farm, but my being is settled most when being with our kids.
After a 60 hour work week at the farm, Mike is still craving perfection in the fields. He wants to take advantage of every moment he can when fields conditions are good for cultivating (aka mechanically destroying weeds. If the weather demands extra work in the fields, and it means we can’t be together as a family of 5, Mike chooses farm duty every time. Don’t get me wrong, he loves his kids, but his being is settled most when tending the farm.
Generally this suits us both well.
After working the farmer’s market this morning, I picked up our kids from their grandparents’ house. The girls were excited and chattery in the back seat, excited about spending an afternoon at Stewart Park by the lake. I called Mike, hopeful that we’d all be able to spend Saturday afternoon together. But alas, we are coming up on the solstice, the height of weed insanity in the fields. More rain is coming. The manifold on the well cracked, making turning on the irrigation for those crops under plastic mulch much more complicated. And the list goes on…
We ate lunch together and Mike returned to the fields. I took the girls to the lake.
Hours later, I pulled the car into the driveway. I could see Mike out in the fields, the direct seeder hooked up to the big Kubota tractor. He in his yellow t-shirt, standing outside of the orange tractor, typing notes into his phone… a backdrop of gray/blue sky and green fields surrounding him. He was a splash of color and beauty. I felt immense gratitude for his willingness to still be working.
This silent thought flit through my mind.
Then, as if my oldest daughter caught the thought, she said, “I feel bad for Daddy. He’s always being left behind.”
I took the girls upstairs and we did the bedtime routine. Then I came back downstairs, surveyed the messy house, took a deep breath and set in to do the work of the home. I heard Mike start up the cultivating tractor.
Later on, when Mike came in around 9 p.m., I told him what Zea had said. I asked Mike if he felt sad that he’d missed out on the lake today, he replied, “Not really. I’m feeling lucky that we got this window of dry time to direct seed and cultivate.”
At first his response surprised me, because I was assuming he’d be sad. But then I remembered that our unspoken dance carries us through the two endeavors that matter to us both: family and farming.
I was happy and relieved to be with the children. He was happy and relieved to be in the fields during the dry window. And nobody felt sad. It all just is what it is, our life as a farming family. And we wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Happy cooking, happy eating.