I took a long break from writing. Good weather and more work kept me outdoors trying to catch up on pruning, mowing, planting, and infrastructure maintenance. Even today, a Friday morning in early November, the day is clear and cool, while I, with a guilty conscience, dribble out what shallow thoughts I can conjure.
Yes, the dry sky beckons me to work, but instead, I waste precious time at a high table (it hurts to sit) typing . . . slowly–a lazy farmer neglecting his duties–slowly searching for expression. In my defense, and more to inform and not come across as a whiner, my body can’t handle much more. Farming is hard work.
“Psst, well, yeah.”
Perhaps, (I type only as rhetorical nonsense.) I am stubborn and I don’t readily accept conventional wisdom, or it’s my nature to think I can do anything, and for ten years I have pushed through injury and pain with this keep-on-going-this-sucks attitude, but the reckoning years of my mid-forties are telling me I’m an idiot and farming is hard work.
Perhaps there is something to that whole rural-urban migration where people can get paid more and work less physically hard. It sounds tempting. I lived that life and honestly left it for no good reason other than I bought a farm and needed to farm it. Now, as my shoulder pings with pains of past pruning, digging, raking, or loading hay I realize farming is hard work.
Perhaps I credit my amazing neighbors. Who, from my pin-whole view of their lives, it seems they are made of sterner stuff than me. From my vantage across grass, rye, corn, and Christmas trees I believe they have it figured out and work is as easy walking. If only I tried harder, grew more, sold more, and worked more I’d be successful like them. Instead, I waste hours trying to heal body and spirit by running-resting, work-resting, swimming-resting, work-resting, walking-resting, work-resting, and writing-resting. It should just be work; there is always more work; for farming is hard work.
Perhaps if I started with raw land, or forest land, or a farm with finished buildings, the work would be easier and I’d have a clearer direction and purpose. Maybe a new tractor, or a different implement would save time and labor so I’d have more with the family or for myself. Or is it the animals? Get rid of the cows. No more sheep! Damn horses. The dogs are so needy. Then again, what if I grew a different crop? Or better yet, just one crop. The land would be more manageable, profitable, and easier to maintain. No, I think the best solution is to hire a farmhand to do the pruning, mowing, and weed-whipping. A little more help around here is the answer because farming is hard work.
Perhaps we should sell this place. Find a small parcel with a small garden and a small house. Somewhere quiet, and far from all the people. No hunters, pumpkin traffic, barking dogs, jet boats, airplanes, or mooing cows, but instead, bird song, a gentle breeze, light rain, and occasional car down a nearby road. That’s it, let’s sell this place. . . Although I’ll miss seeing the sunset over the river, or a crisp morning sunrise over the mountains. What will become of all the trees? It would be fulfilling to see those saplings become a forest. And then there’s all those families who love coming to the farm for apples . . . What about my kids? Or their kids? Think of what they’d be missing. . . What I’d be missing?
Just a lot of work.
Perhaps farming is hard work. But so are most things that matter.