Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Ending of an Occupation

My dad, who is in his 80s, has successfully sold most of his large farm equipment on eBay - combine, grain truck, wagons, cultivators, etc. He had a friend help him with the technology and he handled the negotiations. I'm proud of him for taking this on.

Last night when I talked to Dad, I sensed a little sadness in his voice when he spoke about people coming over and buying the equipment. It's an end to his career and a pretty clear indication that none of us kids will be taking over the farm.

At one point, I never imagined anything other than farming. It's how I grew up and what I knew best. Living off the land and being your own boss is the American dream. Isn't it? No one to tell you what to do and how to do it. I  imagined living in a cute farm house with cats and dogs; maybe a few livestock. It would be a lifestyle right out a child's storybook.

But the reality is really much different. Farming is hard work. The pay is unpredictable and the hours are long. It is dusty, dirty work too. The mud never really comes out from under your nails. Just thinking about it, I can still smell the Goop hand cleaner that my Dad used to take the grease off his hands at night.

Farming is physically demanding and often dangerous. Back surgeries are common; as are hernias. And it can be lonely. You are often left by yourself working a field most of the day. Your only companion a radio, a cell phone and someone who brings you a sack lunch.

As a child I can remember packing sandwiches and taking them with my mom to the field for a lunch time picnic. We'd sit in the shade of the tractor eating our lunch. Dad liked candy bars so there was always a Butterfinger or Snickers bar waiting at the bottom of the picnic basket.

Dad loves the land and can grow just about anything. His green thumb runs deep in his veins. He comes from a family of farmers. His father farmed and nearly all his brothers and sister's families live off the land. But this heritage will not be passed down to my siblings or me. It is an ending of an occupation for my Dad and really for our family. It was an occupation that was so much more than a check that paid the bills. This rural lifestyle has formed who I am today and know I am truly blessed.

Savor the details.