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KAREN SCHWALLER

By Staff | Jan 15, 2016

Farmers are crafty by nature. I wouldn’t say they fall under the “Martha Stewart” category, but they can hold their own when it comes to crafting what they need.

Even if the thing they are crafting is nothing but a smile.

My birthday comes in mid-October – a bad time of year for someone on the farm to have a birthday if there is to be any kind of festivities involving members of a farm family.

I remember my father telling me once, “You know, you got me out of the field the year you were born.”

To which I said, “I don’t think I did that – I think you did that.”

My father, very much a critical thinker, had no choice but to agree with that statement, all things considered, knowing both the birds and bees would back my statement.

I still maintain that it isn’t my birthday that comes at a bad time of year; rather, harvest could invite itself each year at a more convenient time.

It’s a good thing I grew up understanding that people were always too busy to celebrate my birthday at a time when the farm goes into red alert, calling all hands on deck.

And yet, you would think I’d have learned the lesson and married someone whose office was enveloped in smog and was 20 stories in the air, as opposed to being just one step outside his front door.

It must have been a fresh air overdose for me.

This past fall it was setting up to be a typical birthday when our daughter asked me to accompany her on a shopping trip.

Happy to have a plan for the day, we headed west.

We went to a few stores, drooled over many things and kept most of our money.

Of course, since harvest was in full swing, we made the plan for supper on our drive home and executed it with skilled prowess.

We got home at 7 p.m. and split up our jobs. I grilled burgers and loaded them up with all the condiments and wrapped them individually while our daughter gathered up and packed everything else that needed to go along.

We backed out of the driveway with supper in tow by 7:20 p.m., with not even one charred burger.

I’m not sure if Ree Drummond or Jesse Owens would have been more proud of us.

When we delivered supper, we stood around talking as always, with tractor and combine lights shining down on us.

Soon my husband left and walked toward his truck as I cleaned up the evidence of supper.

He soon returned, walking slowly with a bakery cake and some balloons waving in the fall breeze.

I was stunned. One of his trips to the elevator included a stop at the local grocery store that had a parking lot big enough for a semi, and he conducted his secret business there.

I was serenaded by the whole group, who sang “Happy Birthday” – with harmony, no less – under artificial lights.

I was bursting with unexpected fall birthday celebratory glee.

Our daughter was an accomplice to the entire plan, which still seemed small compared to the year she orchestrated an entire surprise party on the first year my age started with a 5.

It was the closest I ever came to needing smelling salts.

Lucky for her harvest went quickly that year, or it would have been only she and I at the party, which would have been no surprise at all.

Happiness doesn’t just happen, it’s created. And it doesn’t matter whether farmers are creating something with the help of the nearby iron pile or a bakery birthday cake.

Either way, someone will be happy with the outcome.

Now for a plan to make the banker happy.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at kschwaller@evertek.net and at www.karenschwaller.com.

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