We are conditioned by social media, all the activities available for young to not so young people, and the thought that hustle is the epitome of successfulness. We are expected to do more, be more, be fit, be smart, be active, be everything to everyone. Work longer hours to make up for the people who don’t want to work. Do all the things all the time.
Farming is one thing after another. Planting rolls in to spraying which rolls in to hay and brome seed and that rolls in to silage chopping and harvest then to fixing the erosion problems in the field and hauling the grain to town mixed with some cows and calving and weaning and general feeding and caring and farming is never ending. The work is literally never done.
It’s hard to rest. It’s hard to take time off, not just logistically, but mentally. Knowing there is something that needs done all of the time and that you are in charge of it. You can work 24/7/365 and still not get everything done. It’s stressful mentally, physically, spiritually, relationally. It’s hard.
As we approach the holiday season and all the parties and gatherings that go with it, I encourage you to try to keep yourself present at those festivities. Go and do all of the things without your thoughts returning to the work that needs done.
Something most of us forget or aren’t great at is celebrating the victories. Celebrate the end of harvest, a successful calving season, or the fact that it rained. Celebrate the people that are around you making this life what it is. So many of us need to celebrate more — small to large accomplishments.
We’re told in our society that so much is expected of us, we don’t feel worthy to celebrate because we haven’t done enough. Harvest isn’t really over until the cover crops are planted, the fields fixed and the crops hauled off. We can’t celebrate until all of that is over. But by that time, it’s time to get the planter out again.
On our family operation, there have been serious discussions in the last year about what to outsource. There is simply not enough time in the day to accomplish it. Our time is split between work, rest, marriage time (date nights, etc.), family activities, other responsibilities and general living (house maintenance and repair, bill paying, food preparation, cleaning, laundry). Granted the time is never split evenly. That’s why we’re always pulled in so many different directions and never feel like we’re excelling at anything.
We just cannot get everything done and have any semblance of life outside of working. There has to be give and take. I work more than full time on the farm with my husband. I think my in laws have trouble seeing that we need time away from the farm with each other for our marriage to be a great one. We work together and are together a lot of the day, why is that not sufficient for together time? Every operation has it’s struggles. It’s hard to have the conversations and having multiple generations understand that everybody has different priorities and goals and desires out of life.
Outsourcing is hard, not only because it means you’re going to have to pay someone else, but because it’s somebody else doing the work and it is simply not going to be the same as you doing it. Nobody is going to care as much about your land and property as you. No farmer I have ever talked to has said they have so much extra time they just don’t know what to do with it. I’m also in a lot of farmer wives groups and know there are a lot of unhappy and neglected wives out there. Something has to change and it’s never going to if you don’t see the problem.
When it all comes down to it, is it really worth it? That’s what all of us are going to be asking at the end of our lives. Was it worth it? Did I live a life I’m proud of? Did I celebrate or did I just keep rolling to get more done? Do I regret missing the events, gatherings and functions so I could get that one field done?
As we enter the holiday season, let’s remember the real reason we’re here. The reason for the season. The king of love laid down his life for us. How are we living with the ultimate gift that was given to us? How are we loving those around us? And what the true purpose behind it all really is. Celebrate!
Kelsey Pagel is a Kansas farmer. She grew up on a cow/calf and row crop operation and married into another. Kelsey and her Forever (Matt) farm and ranch with his family where they are living their dream and loving most of the moments.