I'm sitting at the kitchen table with my lap top this morning. As I look out the window, I can see my husband. Bob is planting soybeans in the field across from the house. This close to home, I can keep an eye on him.
Bob turned 71 in January. He loves farming and wants to keep plugging away at it as long as he can. The trouble with that is more the age of his machinery than Bob's age. Most of his tractors were made in the 70s. It takes a lot of finesse to keep them going. Looking for parts can be an interesting and lengthy scavenger hunt.
The long days of work are Bob's favorite time of the year. My job is to have hot food on the table when he's ready to eat. I also keep an eye on him when he's gone a bit too long. If Bob starts working close to a sticky section of a field, I especially worry. It's still my job to get on another tractor and help pull him out.
My husband's machines are 'putt-putt' models compared to some of our neighbors' big, new tractors. Bob's not in a race to keep up with the Joneses. Even when my sister said if she ever won the lottery she'd buy Bob a new tractor, he said it didn't have to be new. A good used one would be OK with him.
Bob learned to weld when he was a teenager, during the Dark Ages. He laughed the other day when he was welding a machine back together for the umpteenth time.
"I should never have learned to weld," he said. "If I hadn't, I wouldn't be wasting my time trying to keep this hunk of junk together." That hunk-of-junk is a roller that evens out the soil and helps seeds make better contact with ground.
I keep telling Bob that it's time to take the roller into the recycler, but he insists this fix will hold it together.
Last week I didn't say a word when he took that roller out. He wasn't going far, so I figured when it broke, it wouldn't be too hard getting it home.
I was right. About a half hour later, I heard him returning. The noise following him was different. When I checked, I could see that one of the heavy rollers was missing. It had come off in the field. More welding was required.
Last week, Bob had his annual physical — he's doing well. As the doctor checked him over she asked about his work. "How much do you farm?"
"Well, yesterday, I worked from five to nine," Bob said.
The doctor nodded. "Four hours is pretty good," she said.
Bob smiled. He explained that he started at five in the morning and ended his day at nine at night. Of course, this isn't every day of the year. The crazy hours are for planting and harvest. Every farmer knows these times are when they rush because rain or a breakdown can cause everything to come to a sudden stop.
It's difficult keeping up with the rest of the world when our life is centered here on the farm. Luckily (I guess) rain came the night before we had a family gathering here. The fields were too wet for Bob to take the planter out, so he got to relax and visit.
It was a lovely day for everyone — best for Bob when our grandson, Eli, said he loved Grandpa's big tractors. Bob beamed at that, but he pointed out that there were bigger tractors going past on the road. That didn't matter to Eli. Grandpa's was still the best — sweet kid and sweet grandpa.
I think we'll keep them both.