For the love of farming
My father-in-law, Peter Krawetz, standing proudly by a field of barley. Circa 1990.
October has been appropriately designated as agriculture month in Saskatchewan. It is a field of work (pun intended) that deserves an entire month of recognition since farming and producing food is one of the oldest and noblest of callings.
My father, both grandfathers, and father-in-law were all farmers, and many family and friends still carry on the tradition of working the land. My husband and I own farmland and take a keen interest in all that transpires on our precious acres. I may not be an authority on farming practices, but I have had a front row seat to understand and appreciate all that farming entails.
Although farming can be a gratifying endeavour, it can also be a stressful one, in a manner that few other occupations can truly understand. There is a perpetual love-hate relationship between the farmer and Mother Nature that reappears with the beginning of every growing season.
While the farmer will ensure that he or she will do everything humanly possible to enhance the production of a high-quality, high-yielding crop, it will be Mother Nature who holds the trump card and will have the final say in matters.
Her word will be the ultimate determiner, and she has many variables at her disposal, such as rain, heat, wind, hail and frost, to influence the final outcome. An outcome that will greatly account for the yearly income of the farmer.
Yet those who work the land, find themselves loving the land, despite the risks.
In spring the smell of the freshly-worked soil holds the promise of a bumper crop. By early summer, the young crop, according to poet Anne Marriott, is “like a giant’s bolt of silk, unrolled over the earth,” and by autumn, “an ocean of flecked gold.”
According to Marriott, “A man [or woman] could love his [or her] land, smoothly, self-yielding. It’s broad spread promising all his [or her] granaries might hold.” However, most farmers would cautiously observe, “It’s not in the bin yet.”
Although farmers are a hopeful lot, they can be rather superstitious, not wanting to upset the farming gods by counting their chickens too soon. Until the crop is harvested and safely stored, they remain optimistically cautious in their outlook. It is one of the few occupations where hope can change to despair in a matter of hours.
Such is the nature of being a farmer. Farming is not a calling for those unprepared and unable to roll with the punches. Those requiring certainty in their lives are not well-suited to working the land. But for those who find unequivocal joy in rising with the sun to get seed into the ground, or gain immense satisfaction from harvesting a beautiful crop late at night under a full moon, there is no better job in the world.