Farming: Not so fun, easy or simple

October 26, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

With fall in full swing, it’s that time of year when farmers harvest their hard-earned crops.

Since I’m in the country and have crop fields on the property, I’ve always been semi-involved with a farmer lifestyle and have grown an immense affinity for tractors and machines. This is probably why I annoyed my older siblings for watching Mighty Machines when they wanted to play video games or watch something else. 

I collected a variety of books on farming tractors and machines, and for many Christmases, I asked either Santa or my parents for toy replicas. Being young, I never knew the correct words for every machine, so I did my best to describe them in my list. Some of my absolute favourite moments came when I opened my gift containing a combiner or another toy tractor, easily lifting it up in the air, swinging it around in pure joy, and missing my Nonna’s face by mere inches. 

As my collection grew, that enabled me to continue my love of playing “farming.” After watching our farmer plant or harvest, I’d re-enact that with my tractors, almost to a tee. I’d imagine that I was the farmer, and my big brother James thought it’d be funny when he was “stepping” on my crops. I’d either throw a tantrum or just get annoyed with him, but sometimes he’d play with me. And I passed my love of tractors to my younger cousin.

Ever since I was little, I remember the farmer from Caledon coming every spring to plant and every fall to harvest. He’d always work with his son and some other hands to help out. I’d hear the sound of the machines approaching, attuned to them like a guard dog. My heart racing, uncontainable excitement, seeing those machines coming down our driveway and into our parking lot area, mesmerized and in awe at their work. 

While in kindergarten, school was every other day, so sometimes I was lucky to see him work. Other times, not so much. Sometimes I was very unlucky. I eventually got an understanding of when he’d come, and I waited on the bus, wondering if he’d be there. Sometimes he was, but finishing up, so my excitement was brief. Other times, I’d see him the first day harvesting, then miss him the next. After whining and complaining, my dad begrudgingly took me to our neighbour down the road so I could see the machines on his field. One time, I asked my parents if we could ask the farmer to wait until I was home. Sure, stop his entire schedule just for me. 

Usually, when he came and I was home or from school, I’d just drop everything and watch his machines at work. Fortunately, the two biggest fields are right in our backyard and the other on the side, so I constantly saw the machines. The other two on the way back were difficult, but I patiently waited, catching a glimpse through the trees of the red or green machines at work. I’d either be on the swings watching or on the deck and if he was working late, I’d still be out there in the cold dark, until my parents forced me inside. But then I’d move around the house as the machines did, following the lights. 

The best times were when I’d get rides on the machines. Seeing the machine stop, being waved over, and getting a ride is a feeling I can’t fully describe. We’d chat, he’d answer questions about farming, explaining how all the machines work. Either planting, harvesting, or rototilling the fields. One time, I was fortunate that he left a dump truck before I left for school, and my instincts told me he’d come later. So I told my Nonna I’d look after my older sister, who was sick, but that was a lie. I enjoyed an all-day ride on the combiner. Fortunately, my parents didn’t mind.

The biggest reason for my love of tractors and farming is our relationship with the farmer, who took the time to interact with us. Though he unfortunately passed away several years ago, his son continues the job along with his own son now. Through all the years, he’d bring his tillage machine to do my Nonna’s garden and bring a load of smelly manure for the garden, all free of charge. He’d bring a front-end loader to remove fallen trees from the field and bring them up for us for firewood. Most of these times are out of his way and schedule. We always ensure he has room for his machines and respects his crops.

All these years, as I’ve grown up, seeing those tractors still puts a smile on my face and makes me feel like a child again, though I don’t act like one. I’ve gotten to understand farming a little more and see new and different tractors/machines come around. Our conversations with the farmer are a little longer and more in-depth on farming, but also personal. 

I’ve come to appreciate all the immense hard work. It’s not a typical 9-5 job Monday to Friday. You work pretty much whenever. It was great when he came on weekends for me, probably not so much for him. I originally thought he just did our property, neighbour down the road, and his own. He manages at least, over 500 acres. And there’s the season and weather to cooperate. Originally, he planted wheat, but the grubs destroyed them, so he permanently switched, alternating between corn and soybeans. Sometimes, the weather in the fall is so bad he has to harvest in December. One year, because of the constant rain, he had to switch from corn originally to beans, planting in July, the entire farming season pushed back. 

And there’s the cost of the equipment. Finding out how much some of these machines cost, either maintenance, certification, repair/replacement of parts. My God! It’s crazy. I wonder how a farmer can ever make a living. Feels like you’re constantly in debt or on the edge of it. Oh, and I’m sure our gas bills are nothing compared to theirs. 

When I was little, I thought I’d become a farmer, and while driving the expensive and complicated machine seems simple and fun, there’s a lot more to being a farmer. More buttons and parts than when you’re moving it with your hands along the floor. It’s not an easy job or life. Support and appreciate them. Know the meal on your plate comes from them. They work harder in many ways than we know.

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