Today’s post is a little different for me. When I write, I’m usually rambling about my kids or experiences I have had being a mom. But today, I write from my perspective as a farmer’s daughter. I will admit that this could be the first time I’ve ever told my Dad I’m proud of him. I mean, really, how often do we tell our parents how we really feel. A good ol’ “I love you” as we leave until next time or the end of a phone conversation, but never have I fully expressed to my Dad how really proud of him that I am. So sorry about that, Dad, but here’s to you…the first man I loved!
The story about my dad goes something like this…he is a hard working man, a farmer, a husband, a father, a grandpa/papa and a friend! The biggest piece of him is farming, more specially, his herd of cattle. When you are a farmer, you grow to love the earth you till for crops, and the livestock you raise as if they were a part of your family. Today, my dad is letting go of a piece of his farming business, and he will say goodbye to the herd of black cows that were always there to greet him morning and night.
My dad wasn’t always a farmer. He used to work a full time job at the Ford Motor Company until his interest in farming became a realization. The transition was a good one; I’m so happy he followed his dreams. His days as a farmer started before dawn and he wasn’t usually home until after dusk. And he never once complained! Plus, he still managed to support my brother and I in our activities. Sure there were times he would miss events, but we knew he was working hard for our family.
Farming is not easy work, but its rewards are what drives the farmer to do what he does. Raising cattle is what helped my dad establish a business for himself and at the same time, even provide his very own supply of beef meat for the family. I’m pretty sure my dad would say that nothing beats enjoying the benefits of one’s hard work.
One of the best experiences of growing up on a farm, was the opportunity to show cattle. My brother, cousins and I share some of our most precious memories from our times in the cattle barns on our grandparents farm! We raised them, fed them, washed them, and trained them to walk so elegantly around a ring all hoping for a blue ribbon or for the big show, a purple one! My final show was in the late summer of 1998…and I won that purple ribbon. My steer won the Grand Champion at the Prime Beef Festival livestock show! At the end of the sale that weekend, I had to walk my steer onto the trailer to be sold! I cried! A lot! He wasn’t just a cow, he was a like a pet, a friend…yes, someone I talked to in the quiet of the barn. My Dad didn’t quite know how to handle my emotions or even why I was feeling that way. Well, that day for me and this day for my Dad are somewhat the same…an ending to an era. I bet he can understand how I felt that day just a bit more today. I showed cattle and helped on the farm for as long as I could remember and probably since I could lift a bucket of feed or a bale of hay, but that day was my last. I was off to college that fall and my days of helping on the farm were officially over. Although my Dad will proudly walk away from his last delivery of cattle to the sale barn with a smile and some relief, there will be tears and sadness as he steps away from the cattle portion of his farming business.
The days of grinding feed, filling buckets, chopping silage, baling and hauling hay are coming to an end. The constant guarding of cows during calving season, middle of the night checks, wrestling down a calf for tagging or shots…those things are over too. Whether it was heading out on snow/ice covered roads, trudging through muddy feedlots or dealing with frozen water tanks, my dad had one thing in mind…caring for his cattle no matter what it risked. Although all that work sounds hard and uninteresting to some, I know it will still be missed for my dad because as with any job, something that you spend that much time doing and loving is hard to walk away from.
I am proud of my dad for taking a step back from his hard labor work to enjoy life a bit more. My Mom and Dad just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last month and my Dad is turning 61 on Wednesday!! My parents have worked hard in their lives, and will continue to do so, but hopefully at a much slower pace so they can relax, and make the most of their time together. It wasn’t until the last few years that my Dad ever took a vacation other than our annual fishing trip to Minnesota. Hearing the happiness in my dad’s voice as he talks about his new experiences, the adventures he and mom take, the time he gets with all his grandchildren, is something I will look forward to.
Although my dad will still be driving a tractor and working hard during planting and harvest seasons, his obligations have decreased which means more time for the things he enjoys…fishing, family, road-tripping with my mom, and his grandchildren. I hope my brother is ready to have dad around his business more because I’m sure as dad slows down, he’ll quickly think he needs to get busy again! 🙂
I moved to Chicago 11 years ago and each day as I grow closer to The Lord I know He brought me here for a specific reason and He is using me in this city for His good. Although the farm and small town are no longer my home, they have my heart and no one can take away the fact that I will always be a farmer’s daughter! I love you, Dad! We are all proud of you!!