Be careful out there
Although we hear the words, “be careful” from many people over the course of our lifetime, it’s almost always said for the same reasons.
I used to hear it all the time growing up. While doing wishes, Mom would often hand us the steak knives to dry, along with an accompanying, “… careful, hon-those are sharp.”
She still said that to me when I was in high school. I came to decide that my ability to retain information was apparently on a train that had derailed somehow and left no survivors.
Now that I’m in mid-life, the easiest thing I retain is water.
I guess it doesn’t matter how old your children are. Once a mother, always a mother.
But the reasoning for being told something like that is still the same-you want the people you care about to be safe and to not get hurt.
I used to say it to our young children when they would go outside to play. Farms are great places to raise children, but common sense tells us that danger lurks anywhere on a farm. When our children were old enough to go outside alone to play, I told them to be careful.
“It’s the same thing as saying ‘I love you,’ because I don’t want you to get hurt,” I said.
I explained that to them many times as they grew into elementary-aged school children.
They would always listen as I explained, which also amazed me. Over time when I would tell them to be careful, I would add, “You know what I’m saying, don’t you?”
When they were toddlers, they would tell me what I was saying. But when they got a little older, I would usually see a big red-faced grin as they trucked out the door for another round of highly-anticipated toy farming that awaited them in the house yard or sandbox. Their grins told me they understood, even after they were too cool to tell me.
Switching to the grown-up world of farming, it’s interesting to run into people we know on gravel roads, in implement stores, hardware and farm stores, grocery stores, at the elevator and out in the farm yard. If you’re with your husband and you run into friends and neighbors who also farm, it takes less than ten seconds for the conversation to turn to farming.
It used to drive me crazy-even as a farm wife and part-time farmer. But more often than not, I learn a lot from listening to the banter-that is, when I’m not morphing into an inanimate object from the sheer amount of time that conversation usually takes.
But often times these days, I’ll hear farmers exchange parting words of, “Have a safe harvest.” or “Have a safe calving season.”
And the reason they say those words to each other is still the same as the reason Mom used to warn me when handing me the steak knives to dry, and why I used to tell it to the kids when they were very young and just beginning to adventure life on their own.
We care about them and we don’t want to see them hurt-or worse. Field hours are often long and tedious. Calving season can be the root of many a sleepless night while awaiting a calf that’s coming, or following insomnia from a calf check at 2 a.m. on a frigid February night. Mama cows can turn cantankerous, and accidents anywhere on the farm take only a moment. And even when we’ve had a few short nights after field work or out in the barns, there’s usually a full agenda for the next day, tired or not.
So the next time someone tells you to be careful, enjoy the feeling-because, disguised as a friendly greeting, they just told you they care about you. Sometimes a red-faced grin is all we need to see to know someone understands what that statement really means.
That’s heart language at work on the farm.
Karen Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.karenschwaller.com.
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