A wise old man once told me, “I’m not sure if farmers farm because they’re stubborn, or if they’re stubborn because they farm.”
He’s the man with the golden tongue, and he’s absolutely right on both counts.
My husband has barely ever had as much as the flu as long as I’ve known him.
He’s battled through some wicked colds, although we’re still awaiting a chance to try a family friend’s cure-all of downing a shot of blackberry brandy when the cold is first coming on.
I think he secretly bootlegged blackberry brandy in his basement and was looking for customers. Still, he said he never once had a cold after he started doing that.
And you thought you wouldn’t learn anything from reading this piece.
My husband has had quite a year. Last year he pinched a nerve in his neck while running the rock picker.
He dealt with it on his own until the pain became larger than life, and he had to do something about it.
Surgery early this year took care of that problem, but it was hard to keep him down as he recovered. (And those wild, pain medication-driven dreams. Wow.)
March came along, and while working in the shop one afternoon, he managed to have his foot directly under the skid loader bucket as it came crashing down.
I’m sure he broke his big toe, but we’ll never know unless they switch to using toe records instead of dental records to identify people in times of crisis.
He powered through it because there was work to be done.
With the typhoon season of this past spring, getting the crops planted was like a combination of participating in a standoff with FBI/ATF agents and playing chicken. Our sons had committed to a job of cleaning up 1.7 million bushels of corn at the local ethanol plant.
They were to start in early April, but were delayed two weeks at the request of ethanol plant officials.
This put us behind the 8-ball for planting, but it could still work if we kept it together.
And that’s when it happened.
I got a call from our farm associate one mid-May morning from a job site to say my husband had fallen out of a skid loader bucket and the ambulance was coming to get him.
At the hospital we heard the words “skull fracture,” “brain bleed,” “compression fractures” and “helicopter.”
By the grace of God, he survived that accident, but it was smack-dab in the height of planting season, and we were short just about everyone to get the crop in now.
Because of our sons’ willingness to do double duty, our farm associate and the help of neighbors and friends, the crop got planted. We were at our best and our worst all at the same time.
My husband was frustrated that he couldn’t run the planter, but insisted he was good to go with other planting jobs like helping load the seed tender and hauling seed.
He was too stubborn to stay down for long. It was hard for him to watch someone else plant his crops.
Three months later, he would find himself pinned beneath his pickup as it rolled off the ramps while he was working under it.
Unable to breathe, he got the attention of our farm associate, who drove the truck onto the ramps, then used a jack to lift the truck off of him.
Again, by the grace of God he is with us-and powering through his pain to get the work done.
Just yesterday he narrowly escaped slicing the end of a finger off while working on the bean head. And still he goes on from all of this – walking a little slower, catching his breath, rubbing what hurts and cussing when he hits his sore finger on something.
Is it stubbornness, or is it just a farmer’s way?
I don’t know if a lifestyle change is in order or if he needs to go to medical school to support his health and farming habit, but I’m telling you that if he makes it to New Year’s Eve, we’re going to celebrate.
And I think his guardian angels – all of them – should get special, engraved invitations. They have to be exhausted.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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