This song speaks to me. I can feel the passion for how I grew up when blasting this song. Can’t explain it other than it’s an emotional thing.
I grew up on a farm in Northwest Iowa. I sometimes wonder if people who’ve never lived on a working farm, known people who have or visited a working farm just don’t know that it isn’t just a job that one clocks out of at the end of the day or that it’s just the husband’s job. It is a lifestyle, it’s the lifestyle of the entire family unit. Personally I don’t see farming as a job, but as a way of life.
All my growing up years at home my dad was up at 5:00 every morning, seven days a week. He didn’t run and still doesn’t run via alarm clock, but his inner clock. He’d get up and dressed and then he’d make his breakfast, three eggs, three pieces of bacon and three pieces of toast. Many mornings when we were kids he’d be the one to make our breakfast. Mom has never been able to make pancakes to his satisfaction. He’s very proud of his pancake abilities! I assume he makes them the same way his mother did.
First light and he was out feeding the cattle and the horses. Still is. During the frigid winter months he’s always spent part of the morning and part of the late afternoons carrying his two five gallon buckets from the house and filled with hot water from the mudroom, back down to the cattle yards and horse pens. He still does. Always carrying them, not loading the buckets into the back of a pickup or into a gator. Back and forth, back and forth until all the waters are broken open for the livestock to be able to drink.
Dad has only ever run feeder cattle and now roping cattle, but my brother started his cow/calf herd while in high school and at this time of year is a round the clock operation. Calving happens in the dead of winter and round the clock it’s going through the herd and checking and making sure things are okay. Dad has always helped brother with calving season. The cattle are in the fields on stocks, not in the lots.
The best for me was always when a calf would need to come inside for whatever reason. Until a few years ago when dad purchased a small heated shed, the calves would always go into the backroom of the basement. The backroom has a cement floor with a water drain for easy clean up for any mess and also one of the warmest places in the house. Was always a treat to get to sit with the babies!
Before government regulations changed things, we always worked our own cattle without a vet. Can’t do that anymore, which in my opinion is complete bullshit, but to each his own! One of my favorite times of the year. When I was young I ran the back gate, letting cattle into the chute and closing the gate behind. That rough old rope helped contribute to the callouses on my hands. Eventually trimming the crapping ends of the tails off was added to my list, along with the pour on on their backs. Eventually I was allowed to start giving shots, dad always said I was the best shot giver, seldom ever broke or bent a needle.
It drove my grandfather crazy. He was always telling me to go to the house, it was mans work and I didn’t belong down at the chute working cattle. My dad would always tell me I was just fine. Depending on how many cattle we’d gotten in, it was a long, hot and filthy day, but it felt so good when the last head was let out of the chute.
There was sorting cattle with the horses when it was time to separate loads to go to out for slaughter. There was getting cattle in with the horses when the buggers got out and moving from pasture to pasture. My favorite part was when we’d have a renegade or two or three get away from the group and I’d get to play cowboy…my Old Man, Charlie was the best cattle horse, more often than not all I had to do was hold on while he did what he knew needed to be done.
One early morning when cattle got out dad got me up to help since Brother wasn’t home, I wasn’t totally awake when one head took a quick turn and Charlie saw it before I did…he didn’t dump me but came mighty close. Loved the adrenaline rush! Now all I can think of is how much my lower back would kill me if I were to land my ass on the ground. Memories!
Spring was always busy and something I wasn’t allowed to help with. The disking, planting, ect. Dad didn’t even like his dad or Brother helping, he has a way and he just prefers it to be done his way. Recall one time my grandpa came out to HELP, dad wound up having to fix grandpa having disked a section of field that dad had already planted.
Oh, then there was haying season, three times a year, four on a good year. Another thing I wasn’t really allowed to help much with. Hot, dirty and heavy work. We baled mostly small square bales, takes a lot of time to pick all the bales up, stack on the racks and then unload and restack wherever dad chose to stack for the year. Getting help was tough back then, high school and college kids aren’t so much up to baling as in years past. Dad mostly bales the large round bales now.
The only time I ever really was allowed to help was when people would buy bales. Dad would have me help load the pickup and ride along and help unload wherever it was they needed to go.
I would get to help some when it came to cutting silage, I’d get to drive the tractor with the empty wagon.
I won’t go any further, lots of hard work, early mornings and late nights. It takes a village to run a family farm, but it’s a lifestyle that is nothing short of pure love! Wouldn’t have wanted to have grown up any other way.