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On the farm, the biggest lessons often come out of the smallest moments.

March 28, 2019

2 Min Read
power drill upclose
NOT WET: My first thought was to go diving for the submerged drill. Then Nathan pointed out that it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. “Drills aren’t supposed to get wet, Mom.”

The look on his face said it all.

Nathan, my 14-year-old, walked in the door looking like he’d lost his best friend. And like he knew he was in big, big, actual trouble.

Turns out, he kinda was.

He’d gone down the road to help our widowed neighbor take care of some spring jobs outside, including securing the dock where he and her late husband used to fish. All good things. The work was nearly done when it happened: He knocked his dad’s power drill into the pond. It sank. Deep. Fast. Gone.


We talked through how he was going to approach this situation with his dad. Explain, apologize, offer to pay for a new one. “And, you’ll need to do jobs around here to earn money to pay for it,” I told him.

He frowned. “What about my savings? Why can’t I just pay for it out of that?”

“Because,” I told him, “this needs to hurt a little.”

Everybody makes mistakes. It’s true. But mistakes have consequences, and sometimes we need to feel the consequences of our mistakes. Especially when they’re monetary. And if I’ve learned anything in 40 years of living, it’s that a little manual labor does wonders for making you smarter and more careful the next time. Like, say, painting fence or filling potholes in the driveway. Or getting all the snowplowed gravel out of the ditch. With a rake. By hand.

The good news is that the drill was old and nearing replacement anyway, so his dad said he’d split the cost with him. Just like that, half as many fences, potholes and gravel! But still, plenty of time to ponder choices … and circumstances.

These are the years that when I look back, I remember the big lessons that came out of little moments. The value of time and money, and the value of a job well done. Of painting barn roofs and checking cows, of loading hay racks and stacking bales the right way (the first time). Of caring for neighbors.

Those are the very lessons we want to go deep these days, too. Sometimes, it just takes a pond, a drill and some earned dollars.

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