As a little kid I couldn’t wait for the fall school days to be over. The bus ride always seemed to take too long. For many years we were the lucky family to be the last stop, and I impatiently waited to race down the driveway and hope I could finish my homework in time to catch a ride in the tractor with my dad.
The weekends were filled with hours of tractor time as we chopped stalks, tilled the soil and hauled corn and soybeans. While I wasn’t old enough to really be of much help, I didn’t want to miss a minute of the action. My main duty came when we unloaded corn and beans. I usually went in the house to say hi to grandma, give her an update on where we were at and grab a Diet Coke for my dad (grandma always kept her fridge well-stocked with pop of all varieties and a fresh pitcher of iced tea).
One of the memories I am most fond of is riding in the combine with my grandpa, mesmerized by how tall the corn was and how the machine worked.
I loved the evenings when my family, cousins, aunt and uncle and grandparents gathered around the kitchen table in my grandparents’ house. Grandma always had a delicious meal ready to feed the masses. As grandma got older and didn’t cook as much, we found our meal tradition turn toward ordering pizza or Chinese food – something we still reminisce about.
Much to the chagrin of everyone else in my family, I remember hoping that harvest would go through Thanksgiving so my dad would stay home to help my uncle finish up before the snow started flying because this meant more time in the tractor and another family meal at grandma’s house.
The fall season is here once again and while that means more family time, this season also brings challenges. It is no surprise to anyone reading this column that agriculture is going through some tough times. Wisconsin Farm Bureau recently partnered with 16 other agricultural organizations to launch the Farm Neighbors Care campaign.
One of the best parts of rural America is the sense of community and the support neighbors receive in times of need. As farmers battle with another year of low prices, it is time we step up and support one another in the simplest of ways – through conversation.
WFBF is asking farm neighbors and agriculturists to stop in and visit with the farmers you know. You can bring along a small token of your appreciation like coffee and donuts or call ahead and let that person or family know you’ll bring a meal. This will offer time to talk about what is going well on the farm and what challenges they are experiencing. Challenge yourself to not let this stop at one conversation, but to make it a regular habit.
If you want to learn more about how to spot signs of depression, start conversations, handle tough conversations or what resources are available to farmers, you can search #FarmNeighborsCare on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope that this fall when the stress starts mounting, we can reflect on the good times we’ve had and lean on family and friends to get us through the tough days.
This column originally appeared in the October|November 2019 Rural Route.
Sarah Hetke serves as the director of communications for Wisconsin Farm Bureau. She is passionate about answering consumers’ questions about how food is raised and encouraging farmers to engage in those conversations.