The farm is now my home.
My wife and I no longer spend time gasping at how our current situation differs from our last decade of life in the city. A month and a half into country life, we now exist in the brief limbo period between being an outsider and an engaged member of the community, on the cusp of real change. Our honeymoon period is coming to a close. Soon, whatever aura caused people to stare at the grocery store will fade to normal and the city will no longer be the place we left, but an exciting destination to visit when the farm work is done. That’s what we signed up for and we’re okay with it. In fact, we are loving it.
The next step
I no longer ask myself “what have we done?” every time I drive to town and the conversations I have with other farmers and people in the community are lacking the innocence of an outsider’s perspective. Soon, I imagine there will be expectations, social and otherwise, placed on me. On us. After all, the guys at the elevator know me by name and, of course, whose farm I belong to, so I can’t anonymously leave the elevator scale with the hoist up (not that I have done this).
I don’t own land, I don’t even rent land, though I hope to soon, but completing harvest this year was still a bittersweet feeling, marking the end of a process that began in fall of last year when the farm was planned out, field by field; then, the months of decision making in order to maximize each crop’s potential yield; then, the thrill of threshing the fruits of that process, and, hopefully being able to report to the water cooler your decent if not amazing yields.
I am beginning to understand how the many aspects of farming relate to each other — a crucial and interesting step enabling me to anticipate tasks before I am told to do them: putting away the auger after the last load is emptied, making sure the next implement needed is ready for the field, etc. The examples are simplistic, I know, but they demonstrate the difference between working on a farm and running one, a transition I am currently navigating.
Operating the grain truck was a lot of fun and now feels old hat (seems like a lifetime ago when I boasted in this column about not stalling my dad’s tandem), combining was a thrill and learning about elevator contracts and market analysis was and remains very interesting. I have learned a lot and will now be accountable. Next year, even this year, my dad will ask for my opinion with the assumption that the farm is no longer foreign to me and with the assumption that, one day, those yields will be mine to be proud of.
This limbo period is almost over and I will soon engage in this vocation and community as a farmer and resident, shedding once and for all my outsider’s perspective. †