I am sure many of us saw the Dodge Ad during the Super Bowl. For me this hit home particularly hard because I am the proud Grandson and Nephew of dairy farmers. I actually grew up on the family farm and believe that much of the way I am both personally and professionally is because of what I learned on that farm. You see, when I was 5 or 6 and staying with my Grandfather he would wake me up at midnight to see if I wanted to go and milk cows with him. Actually he just got them up out of the fields and then go to the Huddle House to drink coffee but he would take me and make me run behind the truck through the fields, in my barn boots, and unlock and lock the gates to all the different fences we had to pass through to gather all the cows. My reward was a coke and fries after the work was done. There was a lesson to be learned there.
Later as I got older and started to want money and not just soft drinks and fried food he upgraded me to chopping down small trees and cutting them up before we dumped them into the trash pit in one of the fields or “painting” part of the barn. There was a lesson to be learned there.
As I got older and could actually be useful I would work all summer with my cousin building fences by hand even though we had a tractor that would do it in half the time, shoveling trash from around the feed silos or pulling weeds from the farmhouse yard. There was a lesson to be learned there.
As I prepared to go off to college I graduated to actually milking the cows at both 2am and 2pm. I would get covered in things that most people would rather not know about and get cuts and bruises from dealing with the large animals. There was a lesson to be learned there.
Once at school from time to time I would come home and take a few shifts milking cows both to help out (You see this is a 7 day a week 365 day a year job with no days off without extra help) and make some money. There was a lesson to be learned there.
So what are the lessons? Well, neither my Grandfather nor my Uncle has ever told me directly but I think they are;
- You are never too good to work hard for what you want.
- You are capable of more than you think you are.
- If you don’t want to work with your mind you better love to work with your hands.
- The smiling face of your elder as they show their pride in you is a motivator that sticks with you.
I hope my family still has our farm when my girls are old enough to spend at least a few days out there moving piles from one place to another or mucking out the barn so they too can know the value of hard work and have the ability to decide what kind of work they like. I hope they also hold in their hearts the feeling of honest work and accomplishment.
So to my Grandfather and Uncle and all of the farmers that produce those things we so easily pick from the shelves, coolers and bins at the store I say Thank You and you are truly the keepers of some of God’s greatest gifts to us all.