by Melissa Beck
Dad and I spent a day this week on his farm, doing light chores and visiting.
Things have changed since I was a kid. My dad is much more laid back, he even let me stop and take pictures (a lot of pictures) along the way, the urgency and rush that I remember from my childhood is gone, or he just switched it off during my visit.
The two inches of rain he got a couple days before the visit probably helped. His crops are in and I don’t think he’ll get another cutting of hay this year.
When politics came up it became clear that Dad and I are on the same page, we’re both afraid we’re going to end up voting against someone in November rather than voting for someone, and I’m not even sure if it will be the same someone in the end.
We did the rural roll-call, you know where you say “What ever happened to such and so?” and get the latest news about the families in the communities. I’m sad to report that many times when we go through this dad shakes his head sadly and informs me of another acquaintance that has a family member on drugs.
A highlight of my visit was getting to eat lunch at the Albany Senior Citizens’ Center. A delicious home-cooked meal for two bucks. TWO BUCKS PEOPLE!
It was nice to see the stalwarts of the small rural community I grew up in. One gentleman at my table, who is 95 years old, said “I remember when you grew all those cantaloupes and bought your first truck.” I said, “Oh, did I almost run you off the road or something?” Seriously concerned it had to be something like that for him to remember. He was a good sport and assured me that it wasn’t that. I must confess, back in those days I was a white hot blur speeding the 35 miles to “town”.
I helped Dad feed the cattle before coming home, by ‘helped’ I mean I rode along and took pictures.
Dad still feeds the calves using the old John Deere 4010 that I learned to drive when I was nine years old. I’ll always remember Dad put it in first gear, in the middle of a wheat field that hadn’t been planted yet, and told me “don’t turn too sharp you’ll rut up my field, and don’t run into anything, clutch first then brake, CLUTCH FIRST THEN BRAKE.” then he hopped off and went to fix a little stretch of fence.
That’s the same tractor that, when I was sent to fuel up at the diesel tank, I couldn’t figure out how to put it in reverse. I pulled the row-marker off the attached four-row planter on a tree limb because I only knew how to go forward, oh and CLUTCH FIRST THEN BRAKE. My Uncle Ralph made it better by telling me my own dad drove a tractor into a pond when he was about my age.
It was good to spend some time with Dad on the farm. He taught me to love agriculture, to work hard and how to put a 4010 in reverse. Thanks Dad for not giving up on me even though I know you could have done it faster, and cheaper yourself, you knew it was important to let a kid learn, no matter how much stuff they tear up.