The sun returned today to melt the rest of the snow from Friday. It also dried the fields a bit, allowing fall work to continue. The sound of combines, tractors, and semi-trucks could be heard all day as our neighbors worked to complete their 2018 grain harvest. I brought back our main tractor from the field to get it ready for winter duties on the farm, and we will be taking the small tractor to my father’s house later this week so that he can use it for winter snow removal. In all, it was a great day to get some late autumn work done.
I find myself thinking back on the season today. I often do that in the fall. It’s useful to look back and evaluate how things worked or didn’t. This year had many challenges, both in and out of the field. The weather was very problematic. We received close to two feet more rain than average, which flooded our fields at times, stunted the growth of our plants, and promoted disease in sensitive plants. We were grateful that all of the damaging wind and hail missed us and that we were twice lucky when two separate storms that dumped 8 and 16 inches respectively in a 24 hour period missed our farm by only a few miles. We routinely got our tractor stuck in the spring, and our long-time farm manager moved on to new adventures at the end of the season.
Yet, with all of that, I realize that we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Walking the fields, I realize that I know the contours of the land, and it seems to know me. Every year, we are tested, and yet we are never tested beyond our capabilities. In life, challenges are presented as opportunities. How would we know our limits, if we are never challenged? Farming is nothing more than life, lots of it. I am as shaped by the experience of farming as the oak tree in our yard that has stood there for centuries has been shaped by the years of weathering. Experience and even adversity help me define myself.
The season was not without its joys too, many of them. There are simple pleasures like drinking a glass of wine at the end of the day while enjoying a crimson sunset or finishing breakfast in the serenity of early morning before the world awakes. Moments stolen with Susan and the dogs while camping on the edge of our field on a summer evening are some of my favorite memories of the season. Most days are filled with hard work, punctuated with a continuum of joyful life adventures. I only need to remain mindful to appreciate them. Today, I am remembering and deeply appreciating those moments.
Between these moments, I live my life. Today, I worked a little, played a little, but mostly I appreciated a lot. As the day winds down, I will listen intently to the silent evening, straining to understand the lessons learned when the work is done. Then as my consciousness fades into slumber, I will dream of summer fields and the promises of the season of sunlight that lies but a few months in the future