• Author
    Amy VanStraaten
  • Location
    Gads Hill, Ontario

Optimism Springs

Posted on

While the year may officially start on Jan 1st, it doesn’t always feel like it. A student’s year begins in September and ends in April, May or June (depending on how old they are). An accountant’s year is measured by the fiscal, rather than the calendar year. And a farmer’s, or gardener’s, year begins in the spring, whenever that may come.

Spring is a time of new beginnings, growth and optimism. The snow gives way to muck, and then rain upon rain upon rain (this year for sure!). The days the sun pokes its head through the clouds are happy ones. Gone are the cold crisp mornings of winter. The sun rises earlier and stays out later. The grass is the first to change. Suddenly pastures are green, and lawns come to life. Slowly you notice trees begin to bud, and tulips poke out of the ground.

Invariably, on the farm, spring is a stressful time. Will the land be dry enough to get the manure hauled out? Will you get the corn planted in time? Will your winter wheat have survived the winter? Will you have selected the right varieties of corn and soys? Will this be the year you should have bought crop insurance?

Our life revolves on the farm work. We rush around to get the fields worked, get the manure on, and get the seed in the ground JUST in time for the first cut of hay. And then it’s time to spray corn. Before you know it the wheat is coming off. Then the straw. And second cut. And so on, for the rest of the summer.

In the busy springtime it is easy for things to fall by the wayside. The house gets messy, the fridge goes empty. And sometimes, more important things are forgotten. The vegetable garden doesn’t get worked up when it should, so the potatoes go unplanted. The seeds we so carefully started in pots in the house are forgotten. And until my mom comes and points it out, I honestly forget all about that clothesline the ice storm knocked down.

Forgive me for missing your birthday, your buck and doe, my own field hockey games and Jeff’s soccer games. I was busy, and tired, and probably working.

Summer on the farm is always busy. We’re always running here and there, and there are late nights and early mornings. Friends are voluntold to pick stones, do little square bales, and drive wagons to and from the fields. Maybe we just need someone to milk for us so we can keep working in the fields, or we need our mechanic friends to come fix something at 9:30 on a Friday night . . . Well, maybe that just means I am blessed with good friends, willing to work hard all day in the sun for just some drinks and a good supper. (I have been known to be a pretty good cook.)

After doing little square bales all day and finally being done, our roommate said she had three loads to do for her horses before she would be home. Without a thought, Jeff and I, along with our roommate, headed over to the horse barn to do three more loads. When you’ve been at it all day, three loads is nothing. Her family was so thankful for the help. It was worth the extra sweat, scratches, and soreness.

At the end of a long day, sitting on the porch, in the straw mow, or on a tailgate is the epitome of relief. We are all dirty, tired, sore and sunburnt, but there are smiles all around. The day’s work is done. Sure there is more tomorrow and the next day, but today is done. Your bed is calling your name, but not as much as a warm shower and a hot meal. You have accomplished something today, and it’s easy to see the progress. The field is planted. The bunker silo is full of haylage. The bales are all brought home and nicely stacked away.

For me, that’s what spring is about – the optimism that this will be a good year. That the sun will shine when it needs to, the rain will fall when we need it, the crops will do well, and the work will get done. It’s easy to be hopeful in the spring. The whole year lies before you, and anything could happen. There will always be problems, drought, flooding, and breakdowns. But in the spring, you can hope that it will go well.You can hope that this year will be better than the last.

You will do your best each long, hard day. You will get up early and do everything in your power to get the job done. Your friends will come help when you need them, your family will always be there, and the sun will keep on rising and setting day after day.

How do you speak up for Canadian ag?

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