I was listening to Minnesota Public Radio in the parking lot the other day. The host was talking with a science fiction writer about the imaginative use of time travel in her story and how this theme of a specific time in history affected her career path. She called it a hinge moment. She pointed to a specific moment in time where your past and future hinged, a point where your current life hinges on a moment in your past that put you in this spot today.
    Hinge moments seem to be her family theme. Her grandmother was dating two guys at the same time. They decided she needed to pick one of them, so they came up with a plan. One said he was going this way, the other a different direction. Who she followed was her hinge moment. If she had followed the other guy, the life she lived wouldn’t have existed and neither would the author.
    I can still see my hinge moment. It was a rainy April day when my mom, sister and grandmother drove all the way across Illinois to the eastern border to help me start my move to a new job in Minnesota. As the move became more certain, I became less certain of my decision. I didn’t know anyone up there. I would be 10 hours from home and not five. I started to drag my feet, and my attitude was surly. Then, Grandma snapped me out of it and pushed me out the door.
    You have to understand, this is a woman who is like a mother hen protecting all her chicks beneath her wings. She loved having all her family (siblings, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren) close to home. Now here she was pushing me out of the nest, yet somehow, she knew I needed to try this adventure. Thirty-seven years later, I’m still on the path she pushed me toward. If I hadn’t moved, I wouldn’t have met Mark, and we wouldn’t have our kids or grandkids. Life would have been completely different.
    I bring this up because I attended a women in agriculture conference recently. The morning panelists talked about moments in their careers where they had these hinge moments. Corey Scott works for Land O’Lakes now, but one summer when she was younger, she worked at a landfill that was on fire. She called it a crappy job, but she also learned a valuable lesson. Never underestimate the positive power of a crappy project or job. How you act and handle the situation becomes your brand and how people will see you.
    I was amazed at the advice. I could see all my jobs flash before my eyes and how I had to show up every time, like it or not and do my best job. As I gazed around the banquet room, I saw so many young women. Would I have heard this message when I was their age? Could I truly have understood what was being said? Or, would the words become a seed planted for later growth and maturity?  
    I may have looked out of place, but I felt just as young and excited as these ladies about the potential for new adventures in future careers in agriculture. I may appear to be at the end of my career, but I’m just at the right spot.
    Austin keeps asking me what I want to do. What do I want to do if I didn’t have to work on the farm? So, it appears my jobs on the farm may be waning, but my next adventure is just a left turn or a right turn at the end of our driveway. I wonder which turn I will take to lead me on my new adventure.
    I know there is a job available just down the road. The local potato farmers are starting to cut potatoes for planting. This is as sure of a sign of spring just like the fat robins hopping across my yard pecking at fallen berries and seeds scattered across the ground. The recent high winds have pretty much swept my yard clean but left behind branches as exclamation points. I guess it is time to find my garden seeds and start my growing season in the house. It may be a few weeks before I can actually put seeds in the ground, but it will be here before we know it.
    There are so many questions at the start of the growing season but this year even more so with extremely high input prices and limited supplies. Fortunately, Austin is a numbers guy and has been trying to look at options for our fields. His college education and work experiences are really starting to pay off. By looking at the numbers, we are trying to not get caught up in the emotion and uncertainty of the situation. It is a learning curve, but we’re hitting it at the right angle and speed to keep moving forward. Who knows, it might lead to another hinge moment in our lives.
    As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.