By Kristine Jacobson & Karen Nelson
It’s harvest season in Nebraska. As farmers’ wives, we watch our husbands work long hours and plan their schedules based on the day’s weather forecast. We have learned that we can’t worry about the things we cannot control (windstorms, hail and corn prices) and to support our husbands as they raise a crop that helps feed the world and hopefully our families, too.
Harvest is a good time to recall some important life lessons learned from this role we’ve been given in life:
Outdoor grilling is harder than it looks and sometimes requires a fire extinguisher. When husbands are planting in the spring, irrigating in the summer and harvesting in the fall, it means they aren’t home to help prepare a great steak on the grill. And, lighting and managing that grill can be tricky. You have to pay attention. The secret to a great grilled steak or chicken breast is in the seasoning and managing the temperature of the grill and the length of the time the meat is grilled. Needless to say, the chicken cooked on the day the fire extinguisher came out was not managed well. Learning to use a fire extinguisher is an important life skill!
Great meals can be shared in the middle of a half-picked cornfield. When the fields are ready to harvest, the work doesn’t stop for dinner. Meals are often brought to the field and eaten on the go or on a tailgate propped open in the middle of a field. There are certain meals that work best for packing up and hauling to harvest crews – casseroles, simple fruits and veggies and a homemade dessert seems to lift everyone’s mood. See some recipe ideas here.
Google Maps doesn’t always know the way. Google will not help us when we are told to meet at a field named “Mom’s 80.” It sometimes takes years of practice to learn directions to deliver parts or food to fields named “Mom’s 80,” the “East Pivot” and “The Hundred Acres.”
Putting on a child’s uniform is the first challenge in football. Unfortunately, football season happens right when harvest kicks into full gear. Who knew it could be so difficult to dress a young boy in a football uniform? Should pads, knee pads, laces and strings. Where do they all go? We need a Football 101 class just to get the child out the door.
It’s normal that monthly bills total the cost of a home. When the monthly invoices include $75,000 for crop insurance, a $100,000 fertilizer bill and $50,000 for cash rent, I wonder why I ever stressed about that $72,000 we paid for our first home.
Offering a meatless meal is about as welcome as offering the use of a vehicle with three flat tires. Even if it’s a meal-size salad, you’re going to need bacon bits, cubed ham and hard-boiled eggs — at least.
If it doesn’t happen in January, there’s no guarantee. It’s not that a farmer doesn’t care about the friend’s wedding or the surprise party — just that if it’s not in January, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to do it by yourself. The dead of winter doesn’t have much to recommend it, but it doesn’t interfere with calving, planting, irrigating or harvesting.
Kitchen and bath tools will be repurposed by the family stockman. Did you know that a microwave can be used to calculate the moisture content of silage? The whisk can mix up a mean batch of electrolytes or milk replacer. And my blow dryer saved a calf once.
It’s always a good time for a road trip as long as there’s a rain gauge along the way and parts at the destination. “Didn’t you say you wanted to go to town? See how much it rained at Orr’s. Also, I need to know how many leaves are left on the beans, and the parts are in at Case, so you can pick those up.”
It’s important to be content in good and bad times. Paul must have had farmers in mind thousands of years ago when he wrote these words now etched in the Bible: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).