Wednesday, January 18, 2012

10 Farm-Life Myths

"You live on a farm?!  You are soooo lucky!"  "I wish I lived on a farm."  "What a blessing to be a farm family!" "Your kids probably never get bored."

As a farm family, we have heard comments such as these throughout the last 12 years.  As soon as people find out that my husband is a farmer, they instantly conclude the following:

1) I must be busy helping him in the barns & in the field.
2) Our kids help their dad with the farm chores.
3) We have cows & other livestock
4) My husband gets up early and eats a large breakfast
5) There's so much to do. All the time.
6) My husband drives a tractor for hours & days on end
7) We are rich
8) We are poor
9) We want all of our children to become farmers
10) Farm-life is the greatest life there is

On top of all of that, when people find out we have no livestock to speak of, they wonder what my husband "does all winter."

It's interesting to see the dreamy eyes people get when you mention farming to them.  They picture pristine, red barns amidst rolling green hills; large, shiny, green equipment; blue skies; and my husband getting up early to eat a huge breakfast before driving his tractor most of the day.

Usually, we smile and whole-heartedly agree that it is a great life, because it is.  But we also know that most of these people have very little idea of the reality of farming.

*Note:  The following myths pertain to the farm on which we live.  This, in no way, covers all family-farms.  I do know people who live the "dream" a lot of people have about farming.  Our farm just seems to go against the grain (ha ha), to a small extent.*

Myth 1: I must be busy helping my farmer-husband in the barns & in the field.
I laugh.
I often tell people, "Farmer's wife does not mean farmer."   There are people who come to the farm regularly for corn, straw, hay, etc. that I have not seen in years because I'm always in the house.  And, no, I'm not baking bread or making cheese.  I'm usually schooling the children, doing laundry, making grocery lists, making dinner, etc.  You know - like the rest of you moms & wives out there.  Don't put me on some Ma Ingalls-pedestal.  I live a very similar life to most homeschool moms.

Myth 2:  Our kids help their dad with the farm chores.
Um, yeah.  Given the fact that there have been about 4 grain-auger accidents locally in the past 2-3 months, it should be a given that our type of farming (cash-crop) is not exactly child-safe.
Our oldest is 14 and is old enough to help in some areas, but his back tends to limit him - as does his lack of mechanical skill.  He's much more a people-person - so he'll greet you, talk to you, & show you where the hay is, but that's about it.  Helpful, sure.  But not really the "farm-boy."
Cassia is 12.  She tags around with her dad as often as she can during the harvests.  She'll get up in the truck when he goes to trade off vehicles.  She'll run the remote control to turn the auger on & off (she does this from several feet away from the aforementioned dangerous contraption).  But, because of the busyness of the farm, she can only do these things when her daddy is only running at 80 mph rather than 110 mph.
So, no.  Our kids are not working alongside this time.

Myth 3:  We have cows & a lot of other livestock.
We have a life; therefore, we obviously do not have cows.
Oh, the disappointment that is evident on people's faces when we burst their animal-lover bubble with the stark reality.  Our livestock includes: 1 old horse, about 20 chickens, a dog, and 3 young goats.  None of these make money for the farm. They are basically pets for our 12 year old.  The chickens do put out quite a few eggs a day (which leads to another myth-buster: No, the kids don't "just love to gather the eggs.").

Myth 4:  My husband rises early and eats a large breakfast.
My husband does get up early on most days - about 5:30.  But, not because he has "chores."  He likes to get out to the barn, drink coffee, read his Bible, and talk to his dad about what they'd like to accomplish that day.  As far as a large breakfast, my husband has not been much of a breakfast-eater since the day we got married.  And it's a good thing, because I'd fail him miserably if he was.  Sad, but true.

Myth 5:  There's so much to do.  All of the time.
Actually, for the kids and I - we do about as much as every other family.  We school, shop, go on field trips, visit, play, read, etc., etc.  Eric is busy for much of the spring through fall, but he is able to get a short-notice day off here and there.  He is able to relax now and then - albeit, not as regularly as some. In the winter, (to answer the "what do you do in the winter?" question) he works on getting the equipment ready for the coming year, planning what to plant and where to plant it, and other odd jobs.  He is usually in the house by 5:30 and is often able to take half-days on Saturday.  There IS down time and we enjoy it when we have it.  Because, there are times when he works almost 'round the clock.

Myth 6:  My husband drives a tractor for hours & days on end.
Truth be told, my husband can probably count on one hand the hours he actually drives a tractor or combine in any given season.  Our farm is a 2-man operation that covers about 2,000 acres of land.  His father, who is in his late 60s, has earned the right to the air-conditioned tractors &  combines while my husband does much of the running - moving trucks back and forth, loading and unloading grain bins and dryers, fixing broken machinery, running to the store for parts, etc.  In fact, when the farm bought a new tractor a couple of years ago, the only time my husband got in it was when he gave our children "rides."

Myth 7:  We are rich.
In a sense, this is true.  If we were to  cash in on our land (of which we actually rent more than half of the ground we farm), equipment (little of which is brand new), barns, etc., we might make a bit of money.  But, then, my husband would be out of a job.  Maybe some big farms make a ton of money, but, for the most part, any money we make goes right back into the farm.  My husband often says, "If you farm to make money, you're in the wrong business.  You farm because you love it."

Myth 8:  We are poor.
Ironically, it is assumed we are on one side of the financial spectrum or the other.  Though we do not have wallets (or bank accounts) flooded with money, we are not needy, either.  God has supplied all of our needs and has allowed to meet some of the needs of others, as well.  Our bills are paid, our home is sturdy, and we indulge in "extras."  The farm provides a comfortable way of life, for which we are grateful.

Myth  9:  We want all of our children to become farmers.
This was not my father-in-law's dream for his children and it is not our dream for our children.  We want our children to do whatever it is GOD wants them to do.  We would love to see them in the ministry - whether preaching in a church or serving on the mission field.  If it is God's will for some of them to go to college and enter a profession, then we pray that they will glorify Him in that calling.  We only want our children to carry on with the farm if that is what GOD wants for them.  My husband is grateful for our farm and works hard to make it a success, but he also knows that we may have to walk away from it tomorrow - whether because of finances, natural disaster, or no one to keep it going.  And he's ok with that.  I think I am, too.

Myth 10: Farm-life is the greatest life there is.
Wait.  This isn't really a myth!  Living on our farm where our children can actually SEE what their daddy does all day and understand why he can't be home for dinner or see their soccer games is a great way to live.  Our children watch the weather and "worry" with us when there's too much or not enough rain.  They rejoice when the combine comes in from harvesting the last wheat field of the summer or the last corn field of the fall.  We celebrate as a family when daddy finishes his big project - Fall Harvest.  We sit down to a special meal and just enjoy the blessings of God.  Though my husband is the farmer and we don't "help," the farm is, indeed, OUR life.  We cheer on our leader & we enjoy seeing his successes which, in turn, allow us to succeed in many ways.
However, in truth, farm-life is not the greatest life there is.  Life in Christ is the greatest.  We could live on a perfectly manicured farm and be making tons of money...but without knowing the God who allows the crops to grow and the rain to fall, it would mean nothing.  Our joy, the love we have for one another...comes from Christ, not the farm.  Yes, the farm allows us a closeness that many families may not be able to enjoy, but it is Christ who binds us together.  It is God in whom we trust for our real success and for our future - whatever it may hold.

You're a Christian?  You are soooo blessed!  I wish everyone was a Christian!  God's children never get bored - there's always something to do!


Erin said...

Well said, Vicki. :-)

(I was totally picturing you in apron and bonnet when you mentioned Ma Ingalls though!)

Jamie Parfitt said...

Good post. It was good to know just what your husband does, since he also helps us and other people so much. You haven't been farming all your marriage, either. Don't forget that part. :-)

Lil' Momma @ Five in Training for HIM said...

I live in a suburban city I guess you would say and we just found out we can have chickens. My husband and I are planning on having a few. I love how clearly you are about real life. I blame tv for a lot of those myths. tv makes everything seem so black and white. Oh and I too, would fail on early morning breakfast. The best part about this whole blog was how you kept referring back to God as your center!

Lil Momma at Five in Training for HIM is being lead by God to be a christian homeschooling family.