My grandfather was a farmer. By today’s standards, he was a very small farmer — only 100 acres or so and the typical livestock which many farmers owned years ago — cattle, hogs, ponies, sheep, chickens. We also had a berry patch, an orchard, a huge garden, etc., and all the out buildings farmers needed — a corn crib, barn complete with a haymow, a granary, a windmill/pump and structures for the animals to get out of the weather.
It was a family farm, and every member of the family helped to work it. Each one of us had farm chores to do every day of our lives. While we often didn’t like to do those chores, we didn’t question it either. It was just a part of being a farm family, and quite frankly, we didn’t know there were families who didn’t have a daily agenda of chores to do. Likewise, as kids, we would have never ever dreamed of asking to be paid for chores; even at that young age, we knew our chores around the farm were just an element of being part of the family unit. They were good lessons.
As an adult, I reflect on that farm with cherished memories. I learned so much — not just about farm life and animals but also about values, morals, hard work, people and love. There were plenty of opportunities to learn, and my family had an uncanny ability to turn everyday life into a lesson. I am forever grateful.
And so it was the other day when I found myself behind a farmer driving a large piece of machinery (I’m ashamed to say I don’t even know what that piece of machinery was) down the road. He was going fairly slow. No. He was going really slow, and the clock in my vehicle was telling me I was probably going to be late to work ... again. I wanted to pass this mammoth piece of equipment, but the hills between Sheffield and Wyanet were relentless. Somewhat annoyed, I resigned myself to being late, settled back in the seat and inched along Routes 6/34 like the farmer before me was.
They say most everything happens for a reason, and that morning jaunt with the farmer before me was no exception. Before long, I found myself thinking about many memories of long ago — days from yesteryear when I spent every day attached to a farm and the operations that ensued there. They were days filled with long hours, sweaty moments, good times and not-so-great times, which brought lessons of life and death, marvels and normalcy, laughter and tears. While money was always tight and our budget was inevitably lean, it was a good life, a wholesome one, and to this day, I’m proud to have been one of those farm kids.
I found myself studying the farmer in the cab of this machinery trudging slowly along the pavement, and I couldn’t help but think of my grandfather. I remember him most in the barnyard, the fields, the corncrib, wearing a straw-brimmed hat, a pair of overalls with a couple of frayed holes in the knees, calloused hands and dirt under his nails. He was truly a man of the earth — simple, proud, unassuming — traits I usually assign to all farmers; whether it’s true or not, I don’t know. Grandpa loved the land, and as I’ve grown older, it’s one of the things I respect most about him.
Finally ... the turn signal was activated, and while there was no hope for me to get to work on time, I was a bit sad to see my morning farmer leave my path. Late or not, I needed that farmer on that day. While he didn’t realize it, he made me slow down and remember a place in time when life was different, simple and not so hurried.
It’s harvest time in Putnam County. Be safe and watch out for our local farmers. Better yet ... appreciate them, give ‘em a wave, and if you have the opportunity to get behind them on your way to work, don’t get in such a hurry. It all happens for a reason.
Putnam County Record Editor Terri Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org