When you own a farm, the work never ends. There is always something to do. An eighty hour work week is an easy feat because we live at our job. We can work for an hour before breakfast and two after supper and get a few more hours in after the boys go to bed. As long as there is light to work by, the only thing stopping a farmer is his or her own will. That voice in your head that tells you it is time to rest. And when you’re behind, that voice tells you to keep going. But too much work can break a person down and wreak havoc on your health and family life.
Our boys, Gus and Dene are nine and seven years old and home from school for the summer. They have household duties much like we did as children. At times we ask them to work with us on the farm so that we can spend time together, but it can be stressful if they don’t do a good job or want to quit. As parents, we struggle with wanting the boys to learn the value of hard work through active participation in the family farm versus having pieces of a “normal” off-farm childhood. But today’s normal childhood includes parents constantly running for their kids.
So into our lives steps baseball. “We can try it – sure. Let’s just see how it goes.” Well, now we have committed four nights a week to the sport. Surprisingly, it has been a good change. Other than speeding up meal time, we are forced to drop farm work and leave. At times only one parent, but nonetheless, we have to sit down, rest in the evening sun, and watch the boys play ball. They have our full attention as we practice catch over lunch break or toss a few pitches in hopes to improve their batting skills. Neither of us is any good at baseball nor are we qualified to teach it, so the boys aren’t exactly destined for the majors. But for now, they learn that we can stop working to find a balance with family. And we continue to entrust grandparents to play a huge role in making sure there are camping trips, swimming and visits to the zoo to keep things “normal.”
We just hope that one day they understand the dynamics of having a farm and livestock and the limitations it brings. Those Sunday afternoon fishing trips are at the cost of an unweeded patch of potatoes or an unpicked bed of cukes. Time away comes at a real price, but at the same time is priceless.
Until next time,