Harvest memories worth every mile

Jacqui Fatka Josiah grain cart 2021Web.jpg
CHERISH THE MOMENTS: Seeing your son behind the tractor wheel offers renewed love for agriculture.
Take the time to visit the farm, as it will refill your love for agriculture and possibly the next generation’s as well.

Life gets busy. Whether you’re on the farm or just living life carting kids around, the days fly by.

As my three kids get older, the simpler days of fall are filled with more soccer games and fewer trips to the pumpkin farm or apple orchard. In the last decade, my husband and I have made it a priority to return to my family's southwest Iowa farm to allow for our children to experience time in the combine and grain cart during harvest. But this year we didn’t know if my oldest son's high school soccer playoffs would keep us from returning before my dad and brother wrapped up harvest.

Josiah, my oldest, is 14. He’s growing up before my eyes and somehow has caught the love of agriculture likely from those many trips back to the farm. We don’t farm but are blessed to live in rural central Ohio. This year Josiah is gaining more agricultural experiences as he joined FFA and in August started working for a farmer who lives around the corner and helping another farmer from church. But there’s nothing like hours behind the wheel of a tractor.

When I tried to warn him we might not make it back to Iowa before they wrapped up harvest, his face dropped. As a mom, some things you just want to give your kids. And for me, I’m blessed it’s a love for agriculture.

Papa and grandkids 2021Web.jpgDuring October, I kept texting my brother to confirm whether a trip during an extended school-free weekend might work. One week before we were to leave, he confirmed a harvest rain delay and that they would likely still be running the Friday the kids had off. My son lost his second-round playoff game Wednesday night (which my 9-year-old daughter was rooting for so she could get time in Iowa), and so we set out to make the 720-mile trip all day Thursday.

After 18 years of living three states away, you think that drive would get easier. It doesn’t. But every year at harvest, it is 100% worth it.

Within 30 minutes of arriving at my parents’ house, the kids had eaten a delicious, breaded pork tenderloin made by my mom and were ready to head to the field to deliver warm sandwiches. Josiah quickly took over driving one of the grain carts, as my 12-year-old and 9-year-old climbed in the combine with Papa.

The full harvest moon shown across the remaining 120 acres of unharvested corn on a place that overlooks the farm where my mom grew up. Today, three generations are working that century-old farm.

My love for agriculture flourished in the cab of a tractor when my dad entrusted me at the age of 10 to harvest alongside of him. This year, maybe more than any other, as I rode in the combine seated next to my dad, watching my son drive the grain cart on his own, my appreciation for my agricultural roots deepened that much more. I can't express the emotions I felt witnessing my son so content and confident and doing what he loves-- being on the farm.

That moment confirmed that day-long trip the day before was worth it. Two beautiful, crisp fall days in Iowa was just what this mama needed to see the smile on her son’s face after a 15-hour day helping bring in the last of the harvest before another rain event.

Visiting the farm isn’t just about picture-perfect moments. Those are nice, and believe me, I try to make sure I capture those, too. It’s about the deep conversations in the cab, meals shared in the field, catching up on life carting between fields or the John Deere dealer, but most of all cultivating the deep love of agriculture.

I don’t know if my son will live out his dream of returning to the farm. And as I report every day on the ups and downs of the agricultural economy, God only knows what’s next. But I’m thankful for farmers, and especially my dad and brother who carry on, and the love that continues to grow in this next generation.

So as harvest winds down, take the time to create opportunities to allow the love of agriculture to grow. It’s worth it every time.

TAGS: Harvest
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