A Bump in the Road

By John W. Vander Velden

I am a farmer. That seems simple enough, even if it is not a complete description of the man I have become. But it is the way I have earned my living for more than a few years. How I have farmed has changed with time, but some things do not. I find myself near the middle of this year’s harvest and am reminded. Plans are good…but things never go as planned.

If I needed to be reminded of fickleness of my profession, the weeks just past should have done that. For I am tied to the weather. There are few other professions more bound to the weather than farming. And it’s more than getting wet when it rains. Summer droughts cause their own fears but over wet fields are no fun either. The storms of late August and September washed out not only the road…repeatedly…but crops as well. I was fortunate that the number of acres lost was minimal. But the intensity of the downpours sent the soybeans ta leanin’ in several directions. Beans tilted steeply to the south must be harvested from the south…against the grain you understand…if you hope to gather most of the crop. Running the combine would seem, to the untrained, as random wandering, a cut here…a cut there…drive all over the place. That is not to mention dealing with all the wet spots to avoid getting the machine stuck…hmmmmm. From outer space the fields with its wandering trails and track, uncountable ruts, and random, oddly shaped unharvested blocks of crops, might look like those high Andean plain drawings of Peru…but not. Maybe the guys at Google Earth would get a laugh at the sight of it. But I harvest where I can in the direction I must, it slows things down…a bunch. I have worked on beans for a month, and what little remains will have to wait until the ground freezes. Time to get back to corn and wonder if those fields will carry the combine’s weight. I guess I’ll cross those rows when I get there.

The point of this post is not to talk about the weather, or wet fields, or farming…well maybe farming…but to say that things do not go exactly as we plan. However just because they don’t, doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish something. Obstacles are part of the journey. Just as falling down is a part of learning. Every day we face things unexpected that seem to stand in our way. We would like to brush those things aside and just go on, but they are rooted too deeply and stubbornly block the direction we have chosen. Some we may be able to leap over, some we need to find away around, but some we must backtrack a bit to take a totally new route. Yes, they’re frustrating. Yes, we loose our patience. But, yes, they’re a part of life, so we have to deal with it, one way or the other. Just like I never asked for the two inches of rain on the already saturated soil in late October, none of us ask for any of the obstacles that pop up without warning. So when an obstacle interferes with our plans, it’s best not to think of it as imposing barricade but rather see it as nothing more than a bump in the road.

(566 Words) 11–18–2016

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