The running joke these days seems to be the lack of willingness of a lot of folks to return to work or apply for the many new jobs that are suddenly available. If you’re a farmer, finding help …
The running joke these days seems to be the lack of willingness of a lot of folks to return to work or apply for the many new jobs that are suddenly available. If you’re a farmer, finding help is a constant struggle and, as a result, there is only one logical course of action. Make your own help, or as I like to refer to it, invest in the future. Jokes aside, my wife and I didn’t have a child just to put him to work, but since he’s here, why not make use of him? As it happens, my son is more than willing to help with things around our little homestead, whether I want him to or not. Fortunately, he doesn’t appear to be the kind of help that my father was when he was growing up. My dad is fond of recanting a story of how he was “helping” my grandfather and, in a moment of rebellion or sheer attention-seeking, decided to “fix” the headlights of the tractor with a hammer before running away.
No, sir, my son hasn’t “fixed” anything like that for me as of yet, and I hope he never feels the need to. However, his genuine excitement for participating in the things he sees me doing continues to surprise me. Recently, I began moving a load of mulch we had delivered from our driveway down to our fenced-in garden where I already had landscape fabric laid out. The task involved shoveling the mulch into our tractor wagon and driving it down to be dumped and spread out. My son, who had been gifted a plastic red shovel for Christmas from his grandparents, decided that this was a task he could assist with. Besides that, I’m sure he realized that hanging around the wagon entitled him to a brief ride on the tractor during delivery.
After watching me shovel the mulch from the pile into the wagon, he began with near-perfect form, scooping what mulch he could balance on his little shovel into the wagon and returning to the pile in repetition. I’m not so humble of a dad to forgo saying that watching him shovel mulch at the age of two was a moment of pride for me, and for that matter, a moment of hope knowing the future in farming I have planned for our family.
As we filled the wagon and drove it to the garden, my son made an otherwise arduous task feel all the more fulfilling as I watched the fruits of our labor not only make the garden look better but also lay the foundation for a healthy and happy work ethic for my boy. As he soon got tired, it was no problem to let him go inside and eat some snacks with his mom while I finished up the last few loads. Sometimes it’s nice just to have the company while you work, no concerns about anything else in that time of simple manual labor. It’s been a long winter waiting to get out again to do this kind of work, and to have my son able to help me more and more every day makes it even more rewarding. There’s always something to worry about or be done, but in the moment when you can shed your anxieties and enjoy these little chores, it’s that much easier to shrug off your daily burdens and live in the now.
The way out here, we don’t force our children to do manual labor, but I suppose a healthy byproduct of clean country living and an ounce of good parenting results in their own desire to do the things we do and to live the way we live. It’s our job as their mentors to set a good example and be the person they would want to be as they grow and learn in our footsteps.