Saturday was a long day for me. I started at the crack of dawn and worked until late at night. Things kept going wrong, but everything was pretty great, considering.
I had to start early to get to a farm north of Napanee at a decent time. Things are really busy for us right now, so we are doing what we can to get everyone there fertilizer on time.
As soon as I got out of the truck at the farm, I was swarmed by black flies, but they weren’t really biting yet. This is good. I don’t mind them crawling around in my hair, as long as they aren’t chewing anything. I was greeted by an older guy and his son. I would estimate the son’s age at about 30-35, but I’ve been known to suck at guessing age before.
I was having some pretty good conversations with the dad about hunting, farming in the Canadian Shield, hunting, and the price of old cedar swamps, while we were putting the tote bags on the tines of the tractor loader, when I saw a car pull up with what I assumed was his wife in it.
“You’ve got company.” I said
“That’s the boss. Look busy.” He replied.
As she got out of the car, I noticed that she had a tiny little guest in there with her. Out of the car scrambled a little boy of about five years old. They stood on the far side, staying away from the tractor with a huge bag dangling from it’s forks. When we got half a ton loaded in it, he dropped the bucket and headed over to set it on a skid. That’s when they made their move.
As the little fella was getting hoisted into the cab by his dad, I noticed the little seat that looked like it was custom made for a tiny rider.
“Look at that.” I stated to the grandpa. “That’s every little boy’s dream, and he gets to do that whenever he wants.”
“He’d stay in there all day if you’d let him. His dad was the same way. I used to babysit him when he was a little boy, and he would spend the whole day in the fields with me. Just loves it.”
I started to get a bit nostalgic while he was telling me about all of the things that his son, and now his grandson, loved to do. When I say nostalgic, I mean choked up. I went back to the time that we were going by Donnie Ferguson’s field and they were doing hay. I doubt I would have been eight at the time.
I don’t know how much haying you’ve done, but an eight year old kid is basically useless unless you’ve got an old tractor that you can throw in low range and tell a little kid to steer it straight along a line. That was what I got to do. I’m sure they told me that it was the most important job that day, and I would have believed them.
I was driving the tractor. THE TRACTOR!
Sure, maybe it wasn’t quite doing one mile an hour, but I didn’t know that. They made me feel like it was a huge responsibility, and that I was the man that was chosen for the task. Even though they were just figuring that it would give them one more hand throwing bales, I honestly felt like there was no better place to be that day. Sure I had been on a tractor before, riding on the fender, but now I was driving.
The reason I was getting choked up, was because I started thinking about how lucky this little kid was to be able to spend his days hanging out with his dad and grandpa on the tractor, then how lucky I was to be able to drive a tractor and get the odd ride on one whenever we would go to someone’s, usually Uncle Randy’s, farm. I then began thinking about how something that we might take for granted, would be a dream that would never be fulfilled for some little kid in a big city.
That makes me pretty fucking sad.
Even as I write this, I can’t help but think of the billions of kids that never got a chance to experience the simple pleasure and gratification of helping someone farm their land. In some small way you just got to feed a few people, and even though it may not seem like a big deal to everyone, it really is. Farmers are the salt of the earth.
Sure farming is a lot different now, what with all of this technology ruining the romance of the trade, but the people who do it are still the same. They still hope for rain when things get dry, and they still don’t get to see their family very much during the planting and harvest season. They work hard for sometimes little return, but they don’t care. Next year will be better. They’ll just plant a little more corn.
Parents, if you live somewhere where there isn’t much farming going on, take your kids to the country at least once in their lives. Find a farm and go ask the farmer if your little boy or girl can ride along with them for a round. I bet they might even let them work a lever or steer for a bit. Believe me, it will make a difference in their life.
Yes, in your child’s life too.
Straw hat and old dirty hanky, mopping a face like a shoe,