It’s that time of year again. One by one those tractors, sprayers, and spreaders are rolling out of the shed and into the fields. Actually, if we’re being honest here, one tractor is rolling out of the shed and then that guy’s neighbors get nervous so they all rush to the field in a pack that rivals the starting line of the New York City Marathon after the gun goes off. Is there anything more exciting than finally getting back into the field after a winter spent working in the shop and doing paperwork? Personally, I don’t think so, and I’m willing to bet that the majority of people in the agriculture industry would agree.
You’ve been working and planning for this planting season since before last season’s crop was even harvested, and it’s time to put it all into action. In fact, you’re so excited that the year is finally officially starting (doesn’t everyone base their timelines off planting and harvest?), that you don’t even mind getting a slow start and spending that first day working out all the kinks and making sure everything is set up correctly. Once things start going smoothly, you’re good to keep that planter rolling until you run out of acres or Mother Nature puts a stop to it.
After a week of early mornings and late nights though, the excitement starts to wane. You can deny it all you want, but deep down you know it’s the truth. The exhaustion from 18-hour work days starts to set in, you get tired of eating the same soggy turkey sandwich in your lunchbox every day at 10 o’clock (I’d like to meet the person who can wait until noon to eat their dinner), and the fact that the closest you come to any kind of social interaction is over the two-way radio with the guy working ground ahead of you gets old.
It’s lonely for the farmer spending his days alone in the tractor cab whose only social interactions face to face are someone bringing seed to refill the planter or the person delivering food.
It’s lonely for the farmer’s wife who is suddenly taking care of the kids by herself, feeding the crew, keeping the household going, and making sure everything behind the scenes goes smoothly.
It’s lonely for the farmer’s kid who spends her nights fighting off sleep in the hopes of seeing the pickup’s headlights shine through her bedroom window knowing that that brief flash of light means her dad is home safe for the night.
Agriculture can be a very isolating profession, especially in the busy seasons. Although everyone usually hates to see those rain days in the forecast, they also provide a bit of respite in the form of slow mornings sipping coffee with the guys in the local diner, cracking open a cold one with friends later on at the local watering hole, or finally getting a chance for the first time in a couple weeks to tuck the kids into bed. They provide a much-needed break to unwind during a stressful season.
It can be trying on a normal year, but this year is really testing the limits. There are no little reunions with your farming buddies over a cup of coffee, there’s no finally getting to sit down at a table for dinner with your neighbor at the local diner debating which hybrid has the best early season vigor, there’s no unwinding at the end of the night around a fire with your friends. But just as we have every other difficult time, we’ll make it through this as well and come out stronger on the other side.
Actually, for the first time (in my lifetime anyway) the most exciting thing about spring may not be the first day of planting; the most exciting thing could be the country finally starting to open up and go back to normal. Here’s to hoping everyone has a safe and healthy planting, plenty of sunshine, and timely rains because the Good Lord knows the agriculture industry could use a break, especially this year.