Summertime: Work it out

June 12, 2017

Summertime: Work it out

I have long had mixed feelings about summertime.

On the one hand: no school, no homework, no pressure. On the other hand: more chores, more hay baling, more work. Long days. Lots of labor. Lots of sweating. Somewhere in mid-August during my high school years, our veterinarian asked if I was ready for summer vacation to be over. I said, “Yes, because I need a vacation.”

My feelings haven’t changed much, even as an adult with her own children. I welcome the end of homework-filled evenings, planners to sign and schedules to keep. Let’s stay up late and be outside and have no schedule!

But then tomorrow brings a work day, cattle to rinse, children to corral. I’m currently typing to the background music of one child practicing piano and another mowing outside my window. The third is with a friend, and the first two are resentful. See? Good times already!

Experience has shown that we spend the first two weeks of summer vacation re-establishing the pecking order around here. Children bicker until I’m ready to move them all into the barn. Just when I think I can’t take it anymore, they settle in. They find things to do together. They (even) enjoy each other.

Their laughter floats in through open windows, as they walk back from the barn. I don’t know why it surprises me so much. (Wait, yes I do: because they were trying to kill each other 10 minutes ago.) But it’s really nice to hear them laugh together. That’s the dream, isn’t it? That these farm kids we raise will work together and like it. That they’ll grow up and keep on doing both.

Sure, we raise cattle to produce a better calf and a better steak. We raise crops to feed the people. But at the end of the day, we’re doing both so we can raise our kids out here — in a barn, and preferably with an animal that won’t cooperate. And the only way to get her to cooperate is to work together.

A summer full of that? I’ll take it.

Originally posted on Prairie Farmer: My Generation

Holly Spangler

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise their three children. On their farm, they grow crops and raise cattle with John's parents. Holly is the editor of Prairie Farmer magazine, a publication dedicated to sharing information about agricultural production and business.

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