A few years ago, my husband was pouring concrete at our farm up the road, putting in a pad for gluten feed. Our oldest was in school, so I grabbed the younger kids and ran up the road, mostly thinking how much my son, then 3, would love the concrete action.
And he did. But while we were there and as I was snapping picture, another image took shape. The concrete was done, and I focused my lens on my husband walking away with Nathan hot on his heels, running and dust flying, to keep up. And as they walked, John's dad, Bruce, joined them. And there they were: three generations, walking across the farmyard, one job done and another to do.
It is life. And it is farm life.
I suppose I can't really compare farm family life to family life off the farm, because I've never done family-off-the-farm. But I have interviewed and listened and learned from people who say farm families have something special. I believe they are right.
We have the privilege of working together every day. Of having a common goal, and a job to be done, and working on it together. Of generations managing the land that has been managed by generations before them. Of fighting and making up. Of arguing and debating and coming to agreement. Of a meal at the heart of the day, and in some instances, of a shared backyard. Or in our case, a short waterway to Grandma and Grandpa's house. We share risk and reward, and the knowledge that we are jointly invested in a terrific endeavor. And that if everything went absolutely wrong, that terrific endeavor could go south in a matter of months. Oh, the risk. We share the highs and the lows; the good harvests and the bad; the good days and the bad.
Family farms like ours make up 95% of all Illinois farms - which is to say, we are the great majority of Illinois farms - and yet I wonder sometimes, is our experience like that of any other family-owned business? Like, say the hardware store business? Or grocers? Or fishing families? Or funeral homes? (random, sure, but you know they tend to stay in the family!)
I don't have an answer to that. But I know we have a certain bond that unites, because we are jointly invested in a family, in a business, and in a daily work.
And I have to believe, that is what makes a farm great.
The archives: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm
Day 14: Leave the Farm
Day 15: Dialogue
Day 16: Store Grain
Day 17: Love
Day 18: Kid Love
Day 19: Straight Rows
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Looking for more 30 Days goodness? My Generation has friends and we're all blogging a "30 Days" series in November. Check out what these farm bloggers are talking about this month.
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