Last night, I patted our two-year-old son gently on his back for a few minutes, leaning over his bed. He had been awakened around midnight by a bad dream or the creaks and cracks of our old farm home. He was frightened, so I offered him a glass of milk and put him back to bed, hoping he would fall back asleep, so I could.
But, this was not to be. After several minutes of crying, I calmed him down again, and now patting his back, I was hoping he would be down for the night. I patted lighter and lighter, until finally I heard his heavy breathing, and lifted my hand from his back. Believing he was asleep, I tip-toed out of his room, wincing at the sound of every creaking floorboard beneath my steps. I knew a diet should have been one of my New Year’s resolutions.
This was what I had done as a teenager, trying to sneak up the noisy stairs and past my parents’ bedroom after being out at a dance too late at night. Like my son, my Dad had the sensitive ears of a dog, always catching me and asking, “What time is it?” Then he’d remind me that I had to get up and milk the cow, or pitch manure from the sow crates at 5 a.m.
Sneaking from my son’s room, I made it out the door and nearly two-thirds of the way down the hall. I could almost reach our bedroom door. I was almost there. Then, like a blowhorn in the fog, I heard him scream, “DAD!” It was back to the drawing board.
The good thing about this sleepless in Crofton moment was it gave me the epiphany for this blog entry. Silence is golden. Quiet is good.
Agriculture in the old days when my grandfather broke the soil with a single-bottom plow, pulled by horses or mules, was pretty quiet. My Dad recalled harvesting ear corn by hand, when the countryside was so quiet, you could hear neighboring farmers on a clear, autumn morning, talking to their horses, or pitching ears of corn against the bangboard of their wagons.
In the evenings still, after dusk, you can sit on our porch and listen to silence, except for an occasional car passing along on the road, a tractor in the field or an owl hooting from a treetop. You can almost imagine what life on the prairie must have been like when Lewis and Clark and their crew tramped through this area.
Yet, with our TVs, smartphones, iPads, diesel engines and computers, it isn’t that often that we truly “listen” to the silence, or appreciate it. I think we should. We should occasionally embrace quiet time away from our gadgets, and truly enjoy our lives in rural America. Because, as noisy as farming these days has become, it is still much quieter than life anywhere else.
With four young children and a dog around our house, my wife and I embrace silence every chance we get. We thank God for it. And I sure would have appreciated a little more silence and a few less squeaky floorboards last night, when I was trying to get our son back to sleep.
Be sure to watch www.nebraskafarmer.com and read our January print issue of Nebraska Farmer for news, information and tips on meeting the challenges of drought. Your best online resource for drought information is the Farm Progress drought site at www.DatelineDrought.com.