Man learns important life lesson about the value of farm life and a hard day’s work.
Story by Richard Bell
I hated country life on my parents’ farm. Digging ditches with my dad on a drizzly morning in the Pacific Northwest was not my idea of fun at 16. The way I figured it, farm life was a waste. Our place was 6 miles from town, a world away from sports, school functions and practically all my friends.
Instead, I dreamed of life in some big city; yet, the second Dad walked out the back door, I always managed to tag along. Wet weather or not, he was still my dad and ours was a farm life.
The first chore I remember doing was keeping track of the water tank. We had no automatic watering device, so Dad always reminded me: “Keep that water trough full no matter what.”
It was boring, pointless work to an 8-year-old kid, so one hot August day I decided to play instead. So, of course, the cows drained the tank that day and ran out of water.
Dad wasn’t pleased. “How would you like to go for a day without water?” he said. “Ever think of that?”
His words stuck in my brain for months, and I yearned to make it up.
Life Lesson Learned
The summer I turned 10, Dad asked me to help paint the barn. The job seemed nearly impossible, but I wanted to prove I could be trusted.
Dad and I each grabbed a brush. We worked for weeks without seeing any progress. With the scalding sun beating down on my bare neck, I just kept on spreading paint.
When the job was finished, I marveled at what we’d accomplished. Our weathered old barn shimmered like the Taj Mahal. My mother and father were impressed.
“Never thought you had it in you,” Dad said.
Life lesson learned, and from that point on, my father and I worked together all the time. He showed me the pleasure in farm life and in doing an honest day’s work. To him, working was a joy, his brand of fun.
After I married my high school sweetheart, Dad manned the farm alone. He died of a heart attack while I was serving in Vietnam. I was lost without him. I hardly knew where to turn.
Back to Farm Life
My wife, Karen, and I spent 20 years in suburbia. We bought a Shetland pony for our daughter’s 4-H project, and then two horses took its place. Our muddy back lot was suddenly far too confining, so we bought a ranch and jumped into the horse business and farm life.
Every day, Karen and I get out of bed at first light and feed and water the herd. On clear mornings we watch the dawn break over the mountains. Sometimes a bright-eyed doe ambles through our pasture or a red-tailed hawk floats on the afternoon breeze. Moments like this sing out and remind us that Heaven must be close at hand.
I can’t think of a life that’s gentler or purer than this one. As a kid I noticed only the mud, the dirt and the pointless hard work of farm life. Now the country is an old, trusted friend, and I never want to leave it again.