September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
No time for long goodbyes
It seems we have been twiddling our thumbs waiting for the wet weather to break. Once it did and the fields could support the equipment, we were off and running a mad race against the calendar. With the rush of the spring season, the rest of life seems to have been pushed to the back burner for a moment.
Most of the corn has been planted after rearranging planting intentions. Some potential corn fields were not going to be dried out soon enough to plant. They are now going to be planted into soybeans once they dry out and the weather finally stays warm. The recent cool, damp weather pattern may have kept us from field work, but the alfalfa fields are enjoying the conditions. With the large snowfall and the prolonged spring thaw, the established hay fields are a vision of emerald green carpets. Once the sun pops out and the temperatures rise, the hay will grow right before our eyes. I better be careful what I wish for. The weatherman mentioned that this week last year we were topping out at 98 degrees. We don't need that much heat yet.
Some things could not be pushed to the back burner because of spring fieldwork. We've had college and high school graduations these past two weekends. Hard to believe our oldest and youngest are graduating and moving forward with their lives. When Austin started kindergarten, I was excited to finally have the chance to volunteer on a regular basis at school. Now he is graduating and I still haven't volunteered. I figured once all the kids were in school, I would have more time to help...only it was on the farm and not at the school. That's okay.
Jonathon graduated from the "U" on Friday night. He came home Saturday night for Austin's baccalaureate service and bow fishing with friends, helped us with field work and moved Sunday night to his new place, and started his new job in Glenwood on Monday morning! Somehow he found time to help with field work before he started to pack up his gear and move out. I could tell he wanted to leave but he kept "volunteering" to help us out. He dragged the new seeding, disced corn land and helped pick rocks for the new hay fields. Okay, so maybe he really didn't volunteer for that job but he wasn't about to pass up the chance to be out in the fields on a beautiful sunny day working together as a family. It is hard to walk away from work when you know you can help. When you know you can do the job and love doing it, but it is not your time.
Bringing children back to the farm has a high learning curve for everyone. Talking with a farming family whose two sons thought they wanted to farm with the folks because it was something they were comfortable doing. Both sides were struggling to find their roles and expectations as parents/employers and sons/employees. The local feed rep could see how things were going on the farm. He told the parents they did a good job as parents, but were lousy employers. They were stepping in and covering for the boys as kids instead of treating them as employees with responsibilities and consequences. Neither side really had a chance to discover why they wanted to farm together. They never tried anything else.
I want our kids to walk away from the farm for a little bit. They need to leave and learn how to be a good employee and what makes a good employer because someday they just won't be able to stay away from the farm. They will want to farm more than anything else. They will discover there is no other place they want to be everyday, in good times and in bad. They have to choose to commit to this life.
So the time has come for Jonathon to say goodbye to his past and hello to his future for now. Saying goodbye and moving forward can tear you between your past and your future. He wants to stay and help in the heat of the planting season, but is anxious to start out on his own. He knows what needs to get done and knows he can do the jobs without instruction, but it is not his responsibility any more. The jobs will always be here, but he won't for now. Life keeps moving on with and without us. Fields will be planted if we are here or not. There is not time for long goodbyes. We have to keep moving.
When you think about it though, we have been saying "goodbye" for years as we prepared for this day. The parting words of wisdom... "make good choices"... "mind your manners"... "check in when you get there".... "I want to hear your voice, not read your texts to know if you're okay".... "love ya".. We are going to miss our kids as they start to live their lives on their own terms away from us as adults. But as parents we have been preparing them for this day...the day they leave the safety and familiarity of home and step out into their life path.
Now the moment is here to say goodbye and it feels like there isn't enough time to review the life lessons one last time. So, you take a few pictures of a truck and boat packed with household supplies, dressers, bed and kitchen utensils. Son and father arm in arm beaming at the new adventure that a waits them both. It doesn't seem possible that we have made it to this point already in our lives, but we have. At least I have all summer to say goodbye to Austin before he heads off to college.