Field Work

Even though I have not lived on a farm for over 25 years, the sight of tractors, planters and farmers working the ground brings out the farm girl in me. A few days ago, I drove to my favorite place to walk and clear my head. All along the way I saw either work in progress or work completed. The tell-tale, perfectly straight lines in the soil extending from fenceline to horizon speak of a farmer who took a deep breath and said “One down.”

This is the time of year in Iowa when:

  • the soil is warm enough to receive the seed
  • farmers are praying over each other for God to send/not send rain
  • farmers are praying for just the right amount of (if any) rain
  • the machinery has been cleaned, checked, greased, and tested
  • someone waves the metaphorical checkered flag as hope and faith accompany the seed into the soil.

The technology of today is truly amazing. GPS systems guide planters down perfectly straight lines, control fertilizer application with pin-point accuracy and alert the driver to immediate problems. My dad was both hesitant and intrigued at these advances, but he didn’t fight them (much). I do miss the art and science of his style of farming. To see the straight rows that he planted simply by focusing on a point in the distance and following the marker line created by that first pass; to hear him “do the math” of field work (using the variables of acres, bags, bag sizes, input costs, days to maturity, row width, seeding rates, etc.); and to know that while planting each field he was looking for ways to make the field better and care for his land: these are my childhood lessons.

My nephew’s wife has been sharing pictures of him with their almost-one-year-old boy sitting on his lap in the tractor cab and I guess that he will be lulled to sleep by the hum of the engine before they have traveled one or two lengths of the field. That time is precious. During these seasons, for that little guy, time with Dad is limited but special. It is during that time that the love of the land becomes inherent. And no matter where he goes in life, he will take that love and appreciation with him.

He may even seek it out at times when he needs to clear his head.


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