Since before he can remember, all my husband Braden ever wanted to do was farm. He started farming full time at an early age starting with the carpet in the living room of the farm house we live in today. Debbie, my mother-in-law, never had to worry too much about where Braden was because she could hear the “noises” the machinery was making while Braden was discing, planting, spraying and harvesting…
Over time, Braden has moved up the ranks at Thomas Family Farms to where he and his Dad, Steve, farm together with the support of our full-time farm employee, Jeff (he is the Super Glue that holds the farm together). Braden also works for and farms with close family friends, Ron and Lori Armbrust. From April-November (and in some years, December), Thomas and Armbrust farms plants, grows and harvests 8 different kinds of crops and monitors 23 irrigation systems. The Bible verse Ecclesiastes 11:6 is put to good use at our house.
“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”
Farming takes faith, teamwork and perseverance; it is not for the faint of heart. Growing up with family that farmed, but not directly on a farm, I never realized just how much time, sweat and sacrifice goes into each and every growing season. In pre-marital counseling, our Pastor at the time said, “put God before your marriage and the rest will fall into place.” Amen. But, what Pastor Shane failed to mention is that sometimes, a broke down irrigation might come before anything and everything else. And that’s okay, because, well, it has to be.
A few months after our wedding, we sat down with my in-laws and our farm loan officer, Rod. When we laid out our succession plan, Rod ran the numbers and shared with us how much he thought we would need to borrow to start farming with Steve and Debbie. I almost fell out of the chair. As I signed away my life…I mean, the paperwork, I said to Braden, “you better make this work, farm broadcasting alone isn’t going to be able to pay this much back.” While it was cute and funny at the time, I should have changed that statement to, “together, WE can make this work.”
I am reminded of the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” While we don’t have children yet, I know for a fact that it takes a village to grow a crop. We could not succeed if it weren’t for our support system. If I am traveling for work, Debbie and Lori step in and handle lunches and late night suppers. Braden, Steve, Ron, Jeff and our adopted 17 year-old “son,” Jimmy, all work together to get what needs to be done at both farms successfully. We are blessed to have great people in our life that support the carpet farming 5 year old that I know is still inside Braden today.
It would be easy for me to resent the farm, the irrigations and the constant chaos that denies a regular supper time, summer vacations and date nights or plans with friends that don’t involve checking irrigation pivots to and from dinner (cross your fingers one isn’t broke down or it’s Casey’s pizza or Subway). Sometimes, I do find myself in the midst of a temper tantrum that would put most 2-year olds to shame when our schedule doesn’t go according to my plan. It happens…
That is when I need to take a deep breath and take a step back to look at the big picture. Not only does the farm provide for us, it helps provide food, feed and fuel for the world. Only 2% of the population here in the United States gets to have that job. That’s something.
I also think about how boring life would be if I were married to a suit and tie. No thank you. I prefer Carhartts, Red Wings and running irrigations. Keyword: running.