December 28, 2018
“It must be so peaceful to live life on a farm.”
Those were the words of a recent visitor to our farm. I thought about them and realized that our visitor perceived farming as a simplistic way of life, where worries are few and far between. The reality can be such a dichotomy from this perception.
So, I thought I would replay the farm visit by examining the visitor’s comments as she toured the farm and her perception of farming — and what I was thinking:
• Seeing a cow-calf pair on the pasture, the visitor said, “Oh, how peaceful to see this mama and baby together on the pasture.” To which I thought, you won’t be here next week, when it is time to wean this calf from its mom. Then, you would hear the weeklong bawling after the separation.
• About the day’s weather forecast, our visitor commented, “The weather is so bright and sunny. … What a lovely day on the farm.” I thought, you have no idea, lady, how much I am praying for rain. The fields need rain, not sun.
• Taking a big whiff of air into her lungs, the visitor said, “Oh, I just love the smell of country air.” She then added, “Even the smell of manure does not bother me when I am visiting the countryside.” To that, I thought, the smell of manure is all part of the air around livestock. The problem becomes how and when we’ll get it spread on the fields, as laws governing manure are changing.
• After her thought about the manure smell, our visitor added yet another topic, this one related to sleeping. “Breathing in all this fresh air, you must sleep so wonderfully at night.” At that, I thought, again, you have no idea. I might breathe in fresh country air all day, but at night when trying to fall asleep, I lie awake, wondering if the fence repair made will hold in the herd of cattle. I’m wondering if the tractor is going to make it through the fields before it needs more repairs. I could worry all night long about repairs made and repairs needed.
• After introducing her to a calf that needed to be bottle-fed because its mother died during the birth, the visitor’s comments were again a perception of complete optimism. “You are so lucky to have this little calf bond with you.” At this point is where I thought more closely about the visitor’s optimism.
The visitor was seeing all the peace, all the beauty, all the simplicity of farm life. I was immersed in reality, immersed in worry. But, she was right. I am lucky to have the calf bond to me. It is what I love about farming: the connection to the animals, the Earth, the life cycle of plants and God’s creatures. Despite the reality of weather, repairs, and regulations from the government that bring worry, farming is a way of life that brings peace — if one becomes mindful of the peacefulness.
Yes, it is peaceful to live on a farm.
Tomko writes from her farm in Rittman, Ohio.
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