April 24, 2023 at 1:41 p.m.
Dating a farmer
My parents allowed me to attend the festival with my friend, her older brother and his group of friends. Jason was included in that group, and when I saw him around the campfire that night, I couldn’t believe my luck.
He had one big thing going for him: He was a farmer.
My idea of farming back then was mostly based on romantic country songs and memories of playing at my cousins’ beef farm as a kid. When Jason and I started chatting that night, he told me he worked on a 450-cow dairy farm and spent his days driving tractors and taking care of animals. The stars practically popped from my eyes as I swooned over the thought of how cool that sounded. It didn’t take long for him to catch on, and he invited me to go for a tractor ride once the festival was over and he was back to work.
I had no idea this would set the bar for what would be considered a date for the rest of my life. The first tractor ride I went on, Jason hauled a load of liquid manure from the parlor drain while I rode along. Can you think of anything more romantic? I was enamored with how easily he could operate the equipment and how far we had to travel just to empty the spreader in about two minutes. He was impressed the smell did not bother me one bit.
I asked about a million questions while he expertly shifted gears. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him to play it cool because I was balanced on the armrest of his seat while we bounced down the road back to the farm. Anyone familiar with this arrangement knows this is only comfortable for two teenagers on the brink of love.
For the rest of the summer, I occupied that armrest while we hauled manure and chopper boxes for hours. We had so much time to get to know one another, and I also learned more about dairy farming.
We got married two years and many tractor rides later. On our wedding day, we rode from the church to the reception in a tractor with a hay wagon holding our bridal party and groomsmen while Jason and I were in the cab.
By the time we started farming on our own five years after we were married, we already had small children and tractor rides were hard to come by. Once our kids became older, though, I snuck rides whenever I could. After over a decade of farming together, it might seem like the novelty would wear off. But, when I get the chance to ride on the fender of a tractor, it gives me a thrill that takes me back to my teenage years.
Our lives have evolved over our nearly 17 years of marriage, and now, we both work off the farm in addition to milking cows. Nowadays, Jason spends more time driving a milk truck than tractor, and his time at home is limited.
Imagine my delight last Saturday when he called and asked if I would ride in the milk truck for the afternoon. I quickly agreed, and when he pulled in with the rig an hour later, I climbed in and felt the years melt away. I am impressed he can drive just about any piece of equipment or truck, and I feel like a teenager when I get to ride along. It is also fun because we delivered milk to the same plant that our milk goes to, and it’s interesting for me to see that side of things.
We saw the owner of the truck and Jason’s boss at the dairy plant, and he mentioned there might still be a CD in the player of the truck. Lo and behold, it was an ‘80s hair band CD. We rode home while singing along to Poison. When we got home, our 16-year-old daughter was putting the last milkers on, our 14-year-old son was finishing feeding the cows and our 10- and 11-year-old girls were just getting done feeding calves.
It may not sound like much of a wild Saturday to some, but to me, it had all the vibes of our dating days. Only, it was better because we got to see the fruits of our parenting in four honest, hard-working kids who all had participated in sports that day and then took care of chores.
I had no idea when I went on that first tractor ride almost 20 years ago what it would lead to. It hasn’t all been sunshine and tractor rides, but if we still enjoy those when we can, we’re doing all right.
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