My storage tank of column ideas was empty until last night. I had a
good dream that made me think; which then made me write-which brings
us to the business at hand.
I had a friend die a few years ago. He was a good guy who was also a
good farmer. The dream I had involved a scenario where an older
farmer needed help putting in his crops. My deceased friend and I
took on the task and were working on equipment in a shop next to a
corn field. It was all so real that I can even remember the moist
smell of fresh rain and the location of various puddles in the yard.
At one point, we raced each other on foot to the house for dinner.
I’m always hungry, even in my dreams, I’m always hungry.
Here’s the deal, I felt great when I woke up. I had a little
different perspective on life and that’s the story I want to share.
I have been existing in stasis the last month. My mind is locked into
the work of spring but the weather has prevented my body from joining
my mind. I hate this this feeling and it is almost like I have been
tolerating life until it begins to mirror my expectations.
I thought about my dream and how I was enjoying such simple things;
planning work, executing the plan, being hungry and the motion of
racing to dinner. There will be a time in all of our lives when those
simple things will fade or simply go dark. This is the time to not
wish for the things you want but want the things that already exist.
These are the memories that you must squirrel away for a time when
memories may become tough to make.
I crave the traditional beauty of spring but maybe I can take some
joy in the changing landscape as the piles of snow slowly lose height
if not weight. Maybe I can enjoy the delicious expectation of the
weather I know will soon arrive, like wanting to destroy Christmas
wrapping as you burrow through cardboard to the gift. I like how the
sunshine slowly changes my environment after which the changes are
locked into place by the cold until the next spell of warm weather.
This maybe isn’t as dramatic as blooms or green grass but it is
interesting. This time of year is also great for bird-watching as
word has really spread that we offer a decent sunflower buffet so we
have a lot of birds to see.
My friend passed on some years ago and left a good life for many of
us to model. Last night I needed a kick in the pants to start
enjoying life again and he gave me a good, gentle boot. The dream
made me covet what I see instead wishing for something else and
showed me path to be grateful for the fullness of what has already
been given to me. The shade of want has been pulled from my eyes and
I can see how good it is to live. Now I gotta run, I’m hungry again.
We spoke this week and you reported about 41 degrees and slight snow
cover in Carrington, North Dakota. I would say we are a bit less and
a bit more, respectively. Dad said the last time we had this type of
winter was in 1943; it was worth the wait for a repeat. We passed through an un-white Christmas without notice and now the cupids of Valentine’s Day may not need parkas.
I know you are busy assembling farm equipment at Erickson Implement in preparation for
spring planting. Good commodity prices mean that farmers not only
have some money to buy new equipment but it also means they need to
have the kind of equipment that can plant, spray and harvest the crop
in a timely manner. Better, more timely practices mean more bushels and more profits. Ten years ago people were not in a great hurry to spray expensive chemical on $2 corn-now the chemical for Round-up ready corn is an investment with a very short payback.
I have been more relaxed this winter as we’ve had little snow to plow
and our cattle need less hay brought to them when the weather is
warm. Freezing temperatures bring about increased need for
hay and it just gets worse the lower it goes. I purchased some hay
bales that received rain from our neighbor, Tom Scholin, and am using
them to bed for the cattle. Straw bales seem a rare commodity as
today’s combines chop the wheat stalks so completely as to make them
almost impossible to bale and so I use hay then top dress it with a little straw
to make it look nice.
I do have a few projects on the docket. I have removed all of the
shelving from the garage which once housed all of my old John Deere
snowmobiles. The sleds are gone and now so are the heavy shelves
which once held them. I have covered the walls with peg board to the
point that I no longer have any more stuff to hang from the walls. I
guess I thought the peg board looked nice AND overdid it just a bit.
I am also installing a filter to remove fibers from our
washing machine before they get discharged into our drain field.
Apparently, many of the fibers lost from our clothing during washing
end up in the drain field, do not break down and therefore create
a mat. It is just this sort of illegitimate carpet that ruins drain
fields and so we will now filter the washing machine’s gray water
prior to release. As is typical, nothing gets me excited like plumbing waste water; I guess I am still that little kid digging ditches so the excess water from the corn silo could run into the pasture.
I hope all is well in Carrington, Dave. I also hope that our good fortune of little snow ends prior to this summer or we are going to rightly call it a drought. It will be at that time that I will become nostalgic for a white Christmas-at least for the moisture.
(I wrote this column in June of 2008 when it was very dry and we needed rain. Those were the days)
My dad and I were milking cows one evening about twenty four years ago. It had been so dry that year and suddenly that evening, it finally rained. I thought we should perhaps go dance in this million-dollar rain like the pioneers did in old black and white movies but my dad simply said, “now if it will just stop.” I never understood what he meant until I started farming a little for myself. This week’s weather has really made me consider what rain means in my daily life.
What is rain? Is it just a return of what evaporated last week two thousand miles away, a boost for newly-planted grass and mosquitoes or it a metaphor of life? Maybe it’s the rain of daily struggle and problems that everyone suffers or maybe it is just plain water. If it weren’t for rain, we’d be missing a lot of songs on the radio as it would leave us only love and mama upon which to create lyrics. I always liked Neil Sedaka’s song “I Hear Laughter in the Rain” but also enjoyed “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters as well. I’ve happily watched hours of rain water my new alfalfa while a few tenths viewed from the same window have brought anxiety and a sort of depression when I needed to bale the same field. I guess rain can mean much to even one person.
So here’s the thing; as rain eventually creates an environment that splits light into rainbows, this same environment divides and arranges emotions into something more easily understood. It refracts what shines from each person in such a way that they can tell how they’re doing inside. If rain gives you joy, then figure out what is making you happy and do more of it. If rain reveals sadness, then figure out what makes you sad and eliminate it. If rain makes you lonely, then find out what’s missing in your life and go get it.
It takes rain for a plant to grow but rain can also help people grow. If ever there is a time for self-reflection, it’s during a good thunderstorm. Rain provide the essential ingredient for looking at one’s own soul-time. There’s not much else you can do, or wish to do, during a storm. It provides the perfect reason to just sit and question whether you’re living your life as you should. If a gentle soaker lacks the impetus for some soul-searching then Nature has seen fit to provide an intensity continuum as rain graduates to hail or even a tornado; one of which is sure to get you attention.
Rain provides growth in character as sure as it provides the same for your flower bed. Rain may sharpen your focus on an internal problem or give you the time for a much-needed nap. Perhaps it can even make a lazy columnist get to work; I have to mow lawn today-and it looks like rain.