Family · Perspective

Thoughts from the Tractor Seat

While raking prairie hay and being launched against my tractor’s seat belt, I cursed how rough the pasture meadow was – pockmarked here and there with a coyote den or other abandoned hole. Then I backtracked. How blessed am I to be in that position?! On land that’s been in my family for over a hundred years, working with my husband, in sturdy steady equipment to get the job done. I felt like I was necessary.

view from tractor

I also thought it humorous that it has been met with incredulity (even by my own children!) that YES, I was driving the tractor. Yes, this sorority girl and cheerleader was the main operator for this rig.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not some version of bad@ss farmer or anything. I’ve done the labor for farming and ranching for the majority of my life on my family’s farm alongside my dad, mom, and sisters. My dad didn’t have any boys.

I guess this is where my own version of feminism comes in. I am perfectly, as is any other woman, capable of most of the tasks on the farm, in the hills, in the pasture, and in the field. For the heavy stuff, you bend your knees, straighten your back and team lift.

It’s actually only been in the last few years since I had children that I haven’t been hands-on farming somewhere. I miss it. It’s in my blood and history. Thankfully, it is also in my future!

Life changes and heat related fatigue (thanks MS) have altered the way I am able to work. If I don’t want to fight numbness and tingling, I have to watch the thermometer. This means I get a tractor or combine with air conditioning. No wheat truck for me this year at harvest. When I get overheated, I’m dragging for a couple of days – like heavy arms and legs – exhausted. Avoidance is key.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful picture of where I worked yesterday evening. Flyover country is truly breathtaking.

God's Country

#farmgirl #independentwoman #hardworkknowsnogender #hayseason

Family

Eclectic.

I have been called eclectic. Not short green hair eclectic, but eclectic in my tastes. Honestly, I’m not brave enough to go green or any non-traditional color. Sometimes I’m not sure whether to blame (negative) or attribute (positive) my tastes to my upbringing. My music playlists raise some eyebrows…

I am from the Midwest. No, not Chicago-style Midwest. I always shudder when I hear a news anchor refer to Chicago as being in the Midwest. Maybe geographically, but definitely not when speaking lifestyle. I am from the rural Midwest – population of our nearest small town – 45. Population of our nearest large town  ~3000.

ru·ral

adjective \ˈru̇r-əl\

: of or relating to the country and the people who live there instead of the city

Around here, farming is the basis for EVERYTHING. Not small garden farming. Actual 100’s if not 1000’s of acres per family. I grew up driving a tractor, delivering piglets for a penny each, digging musk thistles, feeding cattle, picking fruit in the orchard, canning tomatoes, swimming in the pond, etc. Church on Sunday – no excuses. How old am I? No, not 80. Try 31.

I didn’t realize that my tastes or my upbringing were so different from the norm until I reached college. All my friends growing up did all the same things I did. Strange thing, when I started at my alma mater, I realized that not everyone listened to country music, sang gospel songs, could feel the swells of emotion in the crescendos of the orchestra, but also pretended to rap on the 2 hr drive to and from college. Not everybody could sing all the words to a song by Three Dog Night but also lip-sync a mean Pink.

Many of the students were from large cities (Kansas City, Lincoln NE, Denver CO, Dallas TX, Las Vegas NV) When I told people where I was from, they would refer to me as from “Western Kansas.” Not so much. I only live halfway across the state. They were intrigued at the idea of farm-work and starting such work at a young age. “It isn’t called work” according to my mother. It is called “Contributing to the family.” (this is a whole new blog entry!)

Now that I have my own children, I read articles about parenting. I realize that I am still considered “eclectic” in how I apply my traditional views. Do we attend church every Sunday? Yes, we try to. Am I freakish about washing hands and germs in the house? Usually, but I do realize that a really good roll in the mud is healthy for my children. My son enjoys hunting with his dad and cooking with me. He likes to sing “My God Is So Big” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock.” He does a mean break-dance. My daughter can grunt like a buck – impressively. She also charms people with her truly tiny frame and high pitched voice, then wraps them up and tackles them with strikingly athletic form.

I’d like to think that “eclectic” can also mean well-rounded in my experiences and how I am raising my kids. I hope they absorb at least some of the eclectic tastes that my upbringing instilled in me through the way we are raising them. The world takes all-kinds-of-kinds to go around.