While Greg and I were dating, I spent a lot of time with him on the farm. I vividly remember the summer before we got married, when I was taking a couple classes and working at an internship in Columbus. Most weekends, as soon as I was done on Friday, I was driving north. I camped out on a futon in his parents' basement until the crack of dawn on Monday, when I trekked back to Columbus for an early morning class. That summer, we learned a lot about each other, as Greg worked ground and planted fields, and I rode along in the buddy seat.
Fast forward three years to the summer of 2011. I'm amazed at how learning is truly a lifelong process. I'm still learning so much about myself and the world around me. This summer, because of a job switch, I've been more available to help on the farm. In addition to the remarkable farmer's tan I've acquired, I've absorbed some pretty incredible lessons, as well.
For example, I've learned that American ingenuity is not dead. One of the things I admire about Greg is his ability to look at a problem and come up with a creative solution to solve it. Point in case: the hay rake. Raking hay is on ongoing job on a dairy farm. In any given summer, each field of hay will be cut and raked an average of four times. That's a large time investment just to rake the hay! So, this spring while the rains poured down, Greg and his brother Jason fashioned up this beast:
To the naked eye, I'm not sure what it looks like. However, to someone familiar with hay equipment, it is two rakes connected together, which allows the person raking to work two rows at one time. This little contraption reminded me that there are people in this world interested in increasing productivity and problem solving. PS- Two rakes provide twice the opportunity to catch barbed wire and drag it a hundred yards, but that's a post for another time. :)
Another important lesson I've learned this summer is how intertwined family and work really are in rural America. Sure, I've known this for as long as I can remember, but now I'm actually experiencing it. Almost every day, Greg goes to work and checks in with his mom or dad. They're working side by side to build their business and to provide for their families at the same time. One of the reasons I've enjoyed helping on the farm so much this summer, is because it's given me a great opportunity to get to know his family in a different setting. One of my favorite things to do when I have some extra time is to walk to the farm in the evening and help his mom feed calves. It's such great quality time. For a girl who didn't grow up on a farm, I'm only beginning to understand the complexity of farm family bonds.
Finally, I've learned to appreciate the simple things in life. That sounds cliche', I realize, but it's oh-so-true. Greg tends to work pretty long hours, especially during the busy seasons, but there are few things I enjoy more than meeting him at the farm after a long day and riding around on the four-wheeler checking crops or than heading to the pond to watch the sunset. This summer, more than ever before, I've learned how important it is to appreciate the small blessings in life. I've always loved traveling, and I probably always will, but there are some pretty incredible things to experience right here at home with the people I love, too.