A few years ago, my husband was pouring concrete at our farm up the road, putting in a pad for gluten feed. Our oldest was in school, so I grabbed the younger kids and ran up the road, mostly thinking how much my son, then 3, would love the concrete action.
And he did. But while we were there and as I was snapping picture, another image took shape. The concrete was done, and I focused my lens on my husband walking away with Nathan hot on his heels, running and dust flying, to keep up. And as they walked, John's dad, Bruce, joined them. And there they were: three generations, walking across the farmyard, one job done and another to do.
It is life. And it is farm life.
I suppose I can't really compare farm family life to family life off the farm, because I've never done family-off-the-farm. But I have interviewed and listened and learned from people who say farm families have something special. I believe they are right.
We have the privilege of working together every day. Of having a common goal, and a job to be done, and working on it together. Of generations managing the land that has been managed by generations before them. Of fighting and making up. Of arguing and debating and coming to agreement. Of a meal at the heart of the day, and in some instances, of a shared backyard. Or in our case, a short waterway to Grandma and Grandpa's house. We share risk and reward, and the knowledge that we are jointly invested in a terrific endeavor. And that if everything went absolutely wrong, that terrific endeavor could go south in a matter of months. Oh, the risk. We share the highs and the lows; the good harvests and the bad; the good days and the bad.
Family farms like ours make up 95% of all Illinois farms - which is to say, we are the great majority of Illinois farms - and yet I wonder sometimes, is our experience like that of any other family-owned business? Like, say the hardware store business? Or grocers? Or fishing families? Or funeral homes? (random, sure, but you know they tend to stay in the family!)
I don't have an answer to that. But I know we have a certain bond that unites, because we are jointly invested in a family, in a business, and in a daily work.
And I have to believe, that is what makes a farm great.
The archives: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm
Kickoff: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm
Day 1: Working Kids
Day 2: Biotechnology
Day 3: Harvest Eats
Day 4: Church
Day 5: Biotechnology, Again
Day 6: Long Haul
Day 7: Hormones
Day 8: Weather
Day 9: Milk
Day 10: County Fairs
Day 11: Harvest
Day 12: Technology
Day 13: Show Ring
Day 14: Leave the Farm
Day 15: Dialogue
Day 16: Store Grain
Day 17: Love
Day 18: Kid Love
Day 19: Straight Rows
Day 20: Antibiotics
Day 21: Bottle Calves
Day 22: Relationship
Day 23: Big Fun
Day 24: Dogs
More "30 Days" farm blogs
Looking for more 30 Days goodness? My Generation has friends and we're all blogging a "30 Days" series in November. Check out what these farm bloggers are talking about this month.
Beyer Beware: 30 Days, 30 Things You Never Knew About Food
Black Ink: Beef's a Trip - 30 Days from Gate to Plate
Confessions of a Farm Wife: 30 Days of Life on our Farm
Le Jardin da ma Vie: 30 Reasons Why I Love Being a Farmer's Wife
Go Go Bookworm: 30 Days of Farm Kid Stories
Kelly McCormick Photography: 30 Days of Thankfulness
Pinke Post: 30 Days of a North Dakota November
Go Beyond the Barn: 30 Days of Farm Life Blessings
Rural Route 2: 30 Days of the Not-So-Glamorous Life of This Farm Wife
Touching Families: 30 Days of a Town Girl Touched by the Farming Life
This Land, This Life, This Farmer's Wife: 30 Days of Thankfulness on a Family Farm
Farmgirldays: 30 Days of Farm Kids Trapped in the City
My Cows and Pigs: 30 Days of "What's that?"
Dennis Olmstead: 30 Days in a Row
White House on the Prairie: 30 Days, 30 Posts
A Colorful Adventure: 30 Days of JP