If you work in agriculture, and specifically with those farmers who have to get their corn and beans (and perhaps other grains) planted, and there’s snow in April following the wettest harvest in a decade, you can have a couple of different reactions. First, you can revel in the extra time you’re gaining, because no one’s in the field, though they’re not happy about it and they’re keeping you busy anyway (doing things they probably should have done in February, but never mind that). Or, you can buckle down and get ready for the worst possible scenario for a spring planting season – one where the breakdowns are never pretty and ALWAYS an emergency (more so than normal) and one where there is NO room for mistakes. Faulty equipment? They don’t want to hear it. It’s YOUR fault, because you’re the one they call. You have to help them, and if they run into you on the one day you don’t work this time of year (that would be Sunday, when your family gets to claim some of your wearied awake time), they have no qualms about filling your ears – while smiling at the wife and commenting on the cuteness of Small Fry – because their need is so great. THEY don’t get a day off, why should you?
And yet, this dear husband of mine wants to BE one of those farmers. It’s ingrained in him as surely as the desire for open spaces and fresh air. It’s written on him, in the way he drives around and talks of the weather and ponders the land. He has a deep-seated yearning for it, a hunger that I can’t quench any other way. Even if he never gets to DO it, there’s a part of him, in his mind, that will always dream of working the land, coaxing the miracle of life out of it, working hand-in-hand with Nature and God to make your dinner possible.
I’m sure there are other fields of work where there’s this intense pressure, condensed into a small space of time (medicine comes to mind). You get steamed and cooked and fried, all in one sitting. When I first entered the world of working in agriculture, it burned off all my romantic notions about farm life (I was raised on a camp, not a farm, so even all those years of college didn’t fully prepare me for the reality). I always thought spring was the worst, when things were the most intense and the stakes were the highest. If your corn doesn’t get planted, after all, there’s no second chance. If you miss your window of opportunity – or if you get a sudden, unexpected blast of freezing weather in mid-April (April 15 is the safe date, after all, and we’re past that) – then you could be looking at a year of lean times. If you sell your grain wrong, or if you plant the wrong kind of beans, or if that fungus that’s messing everyone up hits your crop, well, then, it’s all over for you, isn’t it? Maybe not. There are federal protections, right? Well, maybe. But there’s this issue of pride. There’s the thing about relying on your own good sense, on the money – not to mention time – that you’ve dumped into this project. There’s that aversion to hand-outs and welfare and not making good on what you said you’d do.
And so, with snow in April (but hopefully no more to come), I can’t help but brace myself, because I won’t be seeing much of Hubby in the next few weeks. It’s going to be intense, and much worse than usual. He’s going to be exhausted at about twice the usual rate, and pushed to the very limits of what he can endure. While I’m off pushing Small Fry in the swing, he’ll be in the cab of a tractor – or dangling off the edge of a planter – getting that pesky GPS stuff to work right. He’s the only one who can do it. No one else will do. (Any pride I feel in that statement is diminished this time of year, because it means that my time with him disappears.)
So, bring on the sun. Let’s get rolling with this planting season!