Most Farmers I Know Are Workaholics, by Kathy Smith

Most farmers I know are workaholics. Of course anyone who works for themselves really has to be. When you are self-employed, everything and there’s no two ways about it—everything— depends on you getting the job done no matter what it takes to do it.

But I think every one of our lives needs balance. Yes, the beans have to be combined, the hay has to be baled and the cows have to be milked. You have to be at work on time, the dishes have to be washed and the laundry has to be folded. But if you miss your son’s 6th birthday party to do all of those things, what memory does he have?

My youngest sister was remembering a not so great birthday recently when the family sang “Happy Birthday” to her as she waited for the school bus. In all fairness, Mom probably had to work the afternoon shift that day, Dad had to be in the barn for chores in the evening, my brother probably had a meeting that night, my sister was in South America as an exchange student and I was in college. So my parents did the best that they could—what my sister remembers is that everyone was too busy to celebrate her special day. Sometimes that is life and it can’t be helped.

However, there just has to be a way to “take time to smell the roses”and get the corn chopped for silage too. And why is it such a big deal for today’s rural workforce such as farmers, veterinarians, milk truck drivers and farm laborers to want to “have a life.”  Don’t we all deserve that?

People who have “regular” jobs would never think of missing their daughter or son’s baseball game or school play. It certainly is no different for rural families. It just seems like no matter how hard you try to schedule things around farming, Mother Nature changes things.

One farm family I know recently took a very rainy day off of work, went out to eat and even took the kids to a movie. Now that seldom happens for most farm families.  I’m sure that there was plenty of work the farmer could have done in the shop until the rain stopped, but the kids had a great time! Will they remember how hard their Dad and Mom worked this fall getting crops harvested? More than likely not.  But I’ll bet they’ll remember the time they got to see a movie and even eat shrimp!

So have you taken time during our beautiful fall to really look at the colored leaves or stop and let the grandkids pick out pumpkins? Are you trying to figure out a few more hours for your family and yourself that is not all work? Good for you! Like the kids’ teeter-totter—all of our lives need balance. Not too much work and not too much play.

Kathy Smith is a farm wife from Wayne Township. She writes for the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau.