Eventually the things we take for granted will be taken away from us. We never know when our last day will be.
In this case, I’m not referring to death but to our last day physically working on the farm.
My husbands grandfather due to some health reasons had to retire from farming and ranching about two years ago. He lost his leg to diabetes and has had a rough couple of years but he is doing really well now.
In his prime “Bud” as everyone calls him though his name is William ran 1650 cow calf pairs on 8500 acres of pasture and farm ground. He built this farm through hard work, passion, and doing things the right way.
Today, Bud is basically home bound. He takes dialysis three times a week. He maybe has a doctors appointment here and there and he goes to church on Sunday.
This man use to spend every waking hour on his farm. He raised his cattle right. He has had a closed herd since the 70’s. He spent everything he had in him on that farm. He took pride in his land and cattle and for that reason he is a well respected man in our area.
We stop by his house which is attached to a piece of ground that we rent from him as much as possible. A couple weeks ago we moved some first calf heifer pairs to this little pasture. Seth and I have been able to start retaining heifers, which is an amazing feeling. All the cattle we own came out of Bud’s herd-That closed herd. I shouldn’t say all we do have 19 that came from a sale barn but we don’t keep their calves. So the heifers we have, come out of a closed herd that has been that way since the 70’s. We hope to replace every cow eventually with a heifer that has been retained from Bud’s closed herd.
The other day the kids and I stopped to visit. The kids were in the other room playing with their cousins and Bud and I were at the kitchen table just discussing how things were going on our operation. Not long after we started talking I looked out the window to find Seth (my husband) and his buddy Chris bringing in a wet bale and a dry bale for the heifers. Bud wheeled himself to the door. That day was extremely windy so he wasn’t able to go out on the porch.
As I watched him, my eyes honestly began to tear up, though I quickly wiped that away. I was still sitting at the table at that point but through the storm door I was still able to see what was going on out there. Watching Bud you could see him fidget with joy, trying to sit up higher in his wheel chair to take it all in. That entire time he looked out the window not once did he turn or take his eyes off what was going on out there. He was basically on the outside looking in on the operation.
When they were finished with putting out that hay and drove off, Bud turned to me and said,”That is what it’s all about, my legacy, you kids are carrying on what I had started with my cows.” I looked back at him literally trying to hold back tears of happiness and said,”but those are your cows, those heifers came from your herd- You never lost your herd, we are just continuing to build it.” I have an immense amount of pride sharing the fact that we are continuing on with the herd of Bud Lemons a well known and respected man in this area. Time and time again that afternoon he just kept saying,”you don’t know how much I miss it, Brit.” That is where this blog begins.
Seth’s cousin Dane, also bought cows from Bud at the same time we did and he as well is doing a good job living on the legacy of the family farm.
That night, as I was tossing and turning trying to fall asleep, that moment with Bud just kept rolling through my mind and I just felt that this could be a good story to share. I’ve been sitting on the notion of writing it and finally decided to sit down and do it.
All of us in the industry, love it. We don’t do it for the money or the glory. We do it, because we love working the ground, watching something grow from the beginning and harvested at the end. I would say a majority of those working on a farm are the next generation to take over that farm and they work hard beside the older generations to keep building what they have started. The love of the land and animals is deeply embedded in our souls. We love feeding the world and we love the sense of pride we get from doing so.
Bud may never actually step foot out in the cattle pasture again. I think that is the thing that has been the hardest on him. Something he was so passionate about and so dedicated to, his ENTIRE life was basically ripped out from beneath him. Those cattle were more then just cattle they were his girls. His pride and joy. Now, the only cattle he sees is what he happens to pass on the way to dialysis, church and the pasture around his home.
I personally often get so wrapped up in how difficult farm life is. How many struggles and brick walls we have to face. Sometimes I let it overwhelm me and I lose sight of the big picture. That day sitting down with Bud brought me back to reality.
My time on this farm is limited. I can choose to let all the problems consume me or I can enjoy something I am so passionate about while I still can. I love working on the farm- getting my hands dirty. Smelling the silage bale as it’s unrolled to the cows. Watching that corn pop up in rows (I can’t help but sing the Tim McGraw song when typing that). Seeing the light in my children’s eyes as they witness a calf being born or the joy on their face when they get to ride in the tractor with daddy. I love spending my days in the tractor in the summer jamming out to my 90’s country and raking acres and acres of hay. I love being able to tell someone when they ask me what I do for a living , that I’m not just a mom, a wife, but I’m also a farmer. I am blessed to be able to smell the corn being harvested out of the field. Watch the beans become gold in color. I’m able to learn a new task when given the chance. I’m grateful to work beside my husband not only living out Bud’s legacy but beginning our own.
Our days on this earth are limited but also our days on our farms are limited. There will come a day when I’ll no longer be able to carry out the tasks on the farm. There will be days where I have to sit back and watch as someone younger steps in and helps me because I’m physically unable. Then their will be that day. The day my last bucket of feed drops out of my hands. The day I unroll my last bale of hay. The last day I can step out and grab the ears of my favorite cow and rub her head. Hopefully, (crossing my fingers) there will be the first day (it’s on my bucket list) I run a combine and the last day I dump that load of beans in the semi. The last day, when hopefully my grandchildren have decided to come back to the farm and I can look out my window and see them taking care of my legacy.
Our days our numbered. One day we will be on the outside looking in. Whether we choose to embrace what we’ve been given or let it beat us down, there will be the day we look out the window and think to ourselves- man do I miss what I use to do. We can’t take one minute for granted not just in life, but on our farms as well. We are blessed to live the best lifestyle out there. We raise food for the world starting with a little seed and a little baby animal. We raise strong families with good values. We work towards a goal of building a legacy not for ourselves but for our family. One day that legacy will be out of our control. It will be found looking out that glass window or door. It will be the moment we realize we are so lucky to have done what we can in hopes that our hard work continues on.
So until that day, I will choose to embrace the time I have on this farm. This glorious life I’ve been given. It may not be all cupcakes and roses now. Some day down the road it will be the thing I miss the most. I hope in the coming months we can get sweet Bud out of the house and into the pasture even if just driving him around looking at the cows. Spending those few moments with him that day gave me a brief moment of the outside looking in, until my day comes I’m going to choose to open my eyes, take in the smells and the atmosphere of the farm and cherish the love I have inside for feeding the world.
When my day comes, I will look out that window, look at what we have built and hopefully my children can get a glimpse of their future with watching me look from the outside to the inside of what they continue to build. To some its just a window, to others like Bud its his seat to the life of the outside looking in.