I received a letter from a reader who asked if I could write about the difficulties a farmer has when leaving a farm. In his case, he was 72 years old, a mere 10 years older than me, and his wife had tired of his reluctance to leave. She was leaving the farm without him, ending their marriage.
This is a tough subject at many levels. It will be difficult to keep from writing a something so lengthy it will not fit in this space I use each week. It is also difficult because it is such a personal subject for me, for many who read this paper, and especially the farmer and his wife.
As a person who has read Dear Abby and listened to Doctor Laura, I wanted to ask why it was necessary to end a marriage. However, nowhere in the letter was the gentleman asking for advice. Decisions had been made and the course was set.
He concluded his letter with, “Pray for us, as the heartache is terrible.” All I can add to his statement is I can only imagine how very sad this is for everyone, family, friends and especially the couple.
On the back side of the letter he listed the reasons why he could not move into town. They included watching the barn swallows from early in the morning to late in the day, seeing the constellations in the night sky, observing the rows of corn grow and develop each year and caring for a pair of long time pets, a dog and cat. He wondered what he would do in town with his time.
There are people who leave a farm voluntarily. Kids and some adults decide that there is more opportunity in a city and want a more dependable income will leave the farm, usually with good memories and grateful for the experience of farm life.
There are people who have left the farm and were forced out such as during the 1980s. They adjusted to life in town and may say it has worked out satisfactorily, but to this day, I am sure they have heartaches over what they gave up.
What about those of us who cannot imagine a life not being on a farm? I read this gentleman’s letter and saw myself, my son, and most of my neighbors. My dad and many of my uncles knew no other life than farming until they died when they were in their seventies and eighties. I am realizing how fortunate they were.
A Dear Abby or Doctor Laura might criticize the letter writer for caring more about his farm than his wife. They would question the wisdom of his choice between the farm and his marriage in choosing the farm.
Love occurs at many levels. We are told to love our neighbor, love our spouse and children and love ourselves. I believe there is a love so strong it is in our soul. It is in the core of our being. It is a love so deep within us that it is life itself. Without it, life is stops being fulfilling.
This is what this farmer was facing. I will assume his wife wanted a life in town, a better life where people and services are more convenient.
To him it was not a better life, but a loss of everything he knew and valued. Maybe this is what the lawyers call irreconcilable differences and “the heartache is terrible.”
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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