Farmers: Also known as those who do not vacation well. Leaving home for any length of time means leaving all that needs to be done undone — or entrusting it to someone else. Or worse yet, knowing they won’t do things exactly the way you do or even see all that you see. In your mind, everything will implode in a matter of a week.
It’s hard to take a vacation from your way of life when your life is also your work. You can’t stop the rain, the drought, the unseen weeds or the livestock from getting sick. You don’t have control over any variable or element. I suppose it’s the mindset that if something happens, you’re there to remedy the problem — or perhaps more truthfully, you’re at least there to worry about it.
Vacation on the farm
My parents loved to go camping and fishing and do a bit of traveling to particular places. But the pathway to home was beaten down rather quickly, as the growing corn and the cows would be calling. Dad was the only one who could hear them.
That was back in the days before cellphones and texting. You didn’t just simply call home to see how things were going. You had to make the decision to leave, and trust things wouldn’t fall apart while you were away.
I know the livestock and crops were always in the back of Dad’s mind anytime he was away. The closer we got to home, the more interested he was in how everyone’s fields looked. I think, while driving back, it was a relief for him when he got to the point of knowing who owns what ground. It was familiar territory, and it was a gauge as to what he’d find in his own fields.
Checking on the cows was the first thing I remember him doing as soon as he turned off the truck. Maybe it was because he could finally get away from all of us saying, “Are we there yet?” over and over. Maybe that’s why it took him so long to count the cows.
Recently my husband and I took a trip together. It was wonderful to get away and so very wonderful to return. We didn’t pull into the driveway until 11 at night, but it didn’t deter us from getting a flashlight so we could check on the garden.
Not the house, mind you, just the tomatoes — because obviously, they’re more important. The same thing was true for the barn. I had to see what was going on, even though everything was taken care of by able-bodied people. I had to see for myself and yup, all was well. I don’t believe I was missed one bit, except by the dog.
When someone applies for a job, they’re told about benefits, how many vacation days and all the incentives. Imagine someone applying to be a farmer who has no clue as to the lifestyle.
I believe the job description would deter them from looking further: Work is every single day of the week, year-round, no days off, except when you decide to trust someone else to do the work. Then you’ll spend your free and fun time worrying if they’re doing it right.
McClain writes from Greenwood.