Thursday, March 21, 2013

You Mean You Have to Work EVERY Day?

I was actually a little cleaner than this

It was a Monday…one of THOSE Mondays…

…I was commiserating with the bank teller over that fact when she said,

“Oh….I wish it was still the weekend!  I had such a great weekend.  I wish it had never ended.  What did YOU do this weekend? “

Early morning at the Market

When I told her that we spent Saturday at the Farmers’ Market, her face clouded a bit. 

“Saturday?  You had to work on Saturday?”

“Well, yeah…that’s what I do.  Saturday is our big day for sales.”

A little furrow formed between her brows.  “Ugh..not me.  What do you do on other days? …wait…do you have to work EVERY day?  I farmers have to work all the time?”

I was more than a little surprised.  For Pete’s sake…this is an agricultural county.  My word!  Agriculture is the number one industry in the whole state! Honestly, I thought "everybody went to VATech". (well, not really...)

“Of course,” I said, “the animals have to eat…there are things to pick and/or plant, chores to do…”

Her eyes glazed over.  “no way!  I couldn’t do that!  You have to work EVERY SINGLE DAY? REALLY?!”

"Well…yeah…I mean, it’s what I do, how I make my living…it’s part of who I am…and I really like it..."

Somewhere along the way she simply stopped listening.  My life sounded too hard, too demanding…too much like WORK to her.  That made me more than a little sad because this is a great life. I spent part of my career way back in the dim and distant past as a bank teller, I remember all too well having to wear hose and heels everyday, listening to customer complaints and enduring the office politics,  so I could truly understand why NOBODY would want to do that every day!

But, the fact is that every single farmer spends at least a part of every single day focusing on some aspect of growing and providing food or other farm products.  …and that’s a good thing!  A VERY GOOD THING!

While there was no convincing the bank teller that I really like what I do…that other folks enjoy this work as well…and without our efforts everyone else would be cold, hungry and naked…it reminded me again how very different we are from the non-farm residents in the county, the state, the COUNTRY.

When the outside temperature is in the teens, the wind is blowing a gale and snow is drifting past the windows, we can’t just sit there with our coffee and enjoy the scenery.  There is feed, hay or water to haul.  There are eggs to protect from freezing. Here on the hill, lambs are born in the winter, while many of our neighbors are in the middle of calving season. All those babies require at least some sort of care and maintenance.  We have to harvest things for Winter Sales on a weekly basis.   Our winter harvest is determined by our fall planting and crop protection.  It demands a level of creativity and commitment far beyond that of summer gardening. All of these chores require us to “suit up” and face the elements. Hats, gloves, jackets, overalls are often draped all around the woodstove in hopes they will dry before we head out once again.  

In the heat of summer, the battle with the elements is far different, but when handled correctly allows us an abundant harvest despite the dirt and sweat and sometimes very taxing physical effort. With a little creative effort (and plenty of freezer space) we can provide garden goodness for ourselves and our customers in the dead of winter.

Yes, it would be far easier to slide into my heated (or air-conditioned) car and head out to a climate-controlled cubicle where I could put in my eight hours and head back home again, perhaps making a stop along the way to pick up supper and/or be entertained for the evening. I'm guessing my salary would be far more impressive, too. No...I KNOW that salary would be FAR more impressive!   But, for some reason (and, yes, I’ll admit… on a bad day I would be hard pressed to identify that reason) this is what I want to do.

Have I mentioned the FOOD?

I like feeling productive.  I like hard work and sweat (!)  and enjoying the fruit of my labors. I appreciate a job well done.  That sense of accomplishment at the end of a long day or an arduous project is deeply gratifying. Did I say that I really like my co-worker?  Happy, well-fed family and customers bring me great joy. The sight of a healthy, abundant crop that is the direct result of MY/OUR efforts defies description.

When you love what you really doesn't seem like you have to work every day, making it easy to be THANKFUL on this Thursday.

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