The day to plant small grains had finally arrived. I had looked at that pallet of oats for nearly a month it seemed. We rent a neighbor’s grain drill and that also arrived much earlier than normal. I had moved it at least three times with the same tractor my father had learned to drive with: a John Deere A. I moved it not because it was in the way, but rather because I wanted to challenge the old A. Could it move the drill with 40-plus bushels in the tank in the field? No problem was the answer, even in the finely dug seed bed. In order to be completely ready for the day, I had our neighbor, Kyle, who helps us with chores at night, help me open the bags of oats and fill the tank. He did such a nice job that I let him drive the A around the yard and attempt to back it into the shed. On his third or fourth try he succeeded. The grin on his face was one of those Kodak moments. I think Kyle also had a renewed appreciation for power-steering.
    The day to plant was sunny, warm and peaceful. The skies were full of lazy clouds basking themselves in the sunshine. Patty sent me off with cookies, chips and a Gatorade. After dinner she promised me more homemade chocolate chip cookies, a grilled hamburger and cold water. How could it get any better? As I drove to the field I admired how green and lush the road ditches appeared, as compared to being full of snow just three short weeks ago. Today was going to be the first day of working on my farmer’s tan.
    As I arrived into the field, I had to decide on my plan for end rows and how I was going to deal with a small pasture and a fence line along the way. I also had to deal with a grove, that benefited from last year’s rains and reached even farther into the field. After the end rows were complete and having made a few rounds, it was now time to dream into the future.
    We are renting the field I was in. I am always amazed how different our farm and others appear from different angles. Even more amazing is the fact that one pallet of oat seed, easily fitting onto the pickup truck, will result in nearly 25 loads of oat silage in just 70 days. God is very generous; only a few seeds transformed into such an abundant harvest.
    As I was seeding along the owner’s electric fence to the river, I wondered how many cows have made this trip in their lifetime. Last fall was the last time for cattle on his place, and I pondered if any cows would ever make that journey again. The narrow path leading to the river was scattered with rock of all sizes and shapes. Gullies were nearly three feet deep from wash outs and erosion. Steel fence posts held up the majority of the electric wire but many were bent, replaced and leaning from the stress of all those years. Anchoring the ends were a few weathered wooden posts, wrinkled and weakened by their many years of service. The once shiny and strong wire now appeared to be full of mends and knots, each resembling another time the cows had gotten out, chased down and redirected back to where home was supposed to be.
    Farther down the fence line the river was moving with purpose. It had to because with recent rains and snow melt new water was forcefully pushing against the river banks trying desperately to keep up the pace. The water appeared crystal clear. Trees tried to make the best of their situation. The abundance of moisture should have made them strong and tall, but the water below constantly chewing away at their roots created quite an irony. Many had tried to provide shade for the cows but eventually had met their match and lost now being reduced to hiding spots for gophers, rabbits and other wild animals.
    The new grass was trying to reach for sunlight but had to weave through last year’s twisted and dead ancestors first. Would this grass flourish and grow tall to provide healthy nutrients for livestock? Would it become a nesting spot for a pheasant or be reduced to a home for fish that would be forced out from the river due to flooding and leave an unpleasant odor?
    I wonder how many trips were made by this farmer and his family when he wanted to milk and the cows were not ready. Trips to get that last cow home. Trips to find that a new calf had been born and needed to be brought home. Trips that resulted in him running back faster than he would have liked maybe because of a bull with an attitude. Trips to view the rising river, knowing that his once secure fence would soon again need mending. Trips on a Sunday afternoon when he took his children fishing and looking for worms under freshly composted branches and logs. All trips that were made on foot, surely the convenience of a four-wheeler was not an option.
    Dreaming on the seat of the tractor has always been a glimpse of heaven for me. Out there on a sunny day where no one is likely to bother you is one of those benefits of working with the land. Experiencing God’s creation and tilling His soil has always been a privilege. Learning this passion from those before us, experiencing it and sharing it with the next generation is nothing short of a blessing. I have solved many problems, answered many questions and planned many twilight meetings, all while dreaming on the seat of the tractor.
    John Rosenhammer farms with his daughter, Laura Scholtz, and brother, Greg, on Roseview Dairy near Sleepy Eye, Minn. They milk 200 Holsteins and run 580 acres of cropland.