Sometimes memories crash into you unexpectedly, a sudden recollection or a scent that reminds you of something or someone important — the joys of a childhood day, the heartbreak of a loved one’s passing. I am always surprised by the emotions that stir again as moments from my past are suddenly recalled. Yet I’m grateful that I do remember.
We add scars and signs of age through the years. It seems that life is etched upon us so we can remember where we have been and how we have weathered the storms of time. Recognizing how far we have come can help us to smile and sigh while looking ahead.
Farming in Kansas provides its own lessons with each seasonal cycle. There are lessons on life and death, faith and hope and sacrifice and responsibility just waiting across the threshold each morning. The sight of a newborn lamb struggling to get up on its feet is a picture of stamina that should inspire us all. The bursting forth of a tender corn sprout through dry hardened ground is a great example of tenacity. The fires set to keep our prairies healthy provide an illustration of the necessity to protect what is fragile and to keep alive what is essential and beautiful.
People make sacrifices be-cause they see a bigger picture. It’s during these times that life is truly appreciated. We all face our own day-by-day tests of character and endurance.
Character-building experiences could be as simple as learning to accept God’s creatures — even if one is a snake that has sought refuge in your living room during a scheduled women’s gathering there.
Respect is sometimes afforded to things beyond our control. Accepting nature’s power and unpredictability is a constant for those of us in Kansas. River water three feet deep flowed through my house and the homes of neighbors during the Flood of ‘93. Ironically, in recent months, we have found ourselves praying for rain.
Flexibility becomes ingrained with every spontaneous call to action. How often do you turn off the burner or put down the garden trowel to move trucks from field to field, pick up a machine part in town or assist in retrieving the wandering livestock that has managed to find a downed fence?
Patience is built one issue at a time. For me it is with every load of mud and manure-covered laundry article that unveils a combination of odd items at the bottom of my wash basin —lamb bottle nipples, corn and soybean kernels, bolts the size of lipstick cases, ear tags and a few things I don’t think I want to know about.
Responsibility is modeled through the conviction of dedication and work ethic. In agriculture it is witnessed each time one more pivot has to be checked or another cow needs help with calving — priorities that often result in running late once again to dinner, church or a meeting.
Faith comes hand-in-hand with being good stewards and feeling confident that what is planted will grow and thrive. This is coupled with hope for the blessings of conditions that are needed for a bountiful harvest. Droughts, floods, winds and oppressive temperatures may shake a bit of optimism out of a farmer, but they never truly diminish an abiding trust.
November is the start of a slower season for those of us whose livelihoods mainly center on crop production. There is still plenty of work to do each day, but the chaotic pace of spring, summer and fall eases. The ground in the valley is now fallow, and we will be giving thanks for the harvest of 2012 this week. It is a good time to assess the lessons gleaned during the past year and to give thanks for each new scar or laugh line.
Mary Mertz is a city girl turned farm wife who lives east of Manhattan as a family member of River Creek Farms.