RURAL REFLECTIONS: That's what farmers do
"Farmers are lucky. They get to sit around all winter," was never said by a farmer or his family.
Fall is the season when crops are being harvested. The growing season for many of the northern farmers is over until spring comes around with all its activity.
Farmers are lucky, but they rarely have a day off.
Farmers live where they work, and their wives and children work where they live. My dad began every day, every work day, when he hopped out of bed in the morning and ended when he crawled back into it at night. He loved his work. And we all loved living on a farm.
Farming didn't just involve the raising of stock and growing crops. In fact, in the fall and winter, Dad worked on the machinery that needed repair and preparation for the coming spring. We raised tobacco, which was nearly a yearlong crop. Fall meant that he made sure we had wood for the boiler in the strip shed (another story) and that the shed was ready for the family to begin the task of preparing the crop for market (again, another story).
Dad worked on his tractors and made sure we had enough firewood for the winter activities around the fireplace. Winter storms came, and Dad was out on the tractor plowing roads and pulling neighbors' cars out of ditches.
Animals were tended regardless of the season. Regardless of the weather.
We all worked. We gathered eggs, worked in the fields, helped Dad with anything and everything when he needed an extra pair of hands.
And we were always busy in the house with Mom. She was as busy as my father. She baked, canned, fed farm hands, raised kids and babysat for anyone who needed a break.
Our house was always clean, right along with our clothing. In the winter, she hung the clothes on the clothesline strung across the top of the hill so the clothing could dry waving at the corn (my own reasoning).
Mom fed the animals, gathered eggs, killed chickens and worked side by side with Dad in the field. And as all farmers do, Mom and Dad helped other family members on their farms whenever needed.
Funny thing is that in this way of life, you never think about days off or sick days or exotic vacations. The farm is like another family member. It requires daily care and a good bit of love.
To say that farmers have an easy life is overstated. Farmers have a wonderful life full of work, cooperation, rising above the struggles that come all too often and community. Faith, neighbors, family and the earth. That's what farmers do.
Now that I'm retired, I get to sit around all winter and think about it.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a Beaverton resident and self-described lifelong "farm girl."
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