The Best Life Lessons from Dad
Every girl’s relationship with her father or father figure is unique and special. My father, a contractor and farmer, has instilled agricultural values and taught me life lessons that have molded me into strong, smart, farm girl that I am today.
1. Respect & appreciation for land & animals
Gerald O’Hara from Gone with the Windspeaks to Scarlett on the importance of land. My father has a deep love for this little once farming area from the acres of hardwoods to the little farmland that is left. He is rooted in the old generation’s form of respect of the agricultural traditions. Many Farmer dads have this love for the smell of fresh cut hay, sifting the soil through their hands and being a caretaker of farm animals. I share my father’s love for our cattle and most importantly, the land we farm. I have a sense of pride in being able to have the luxury to bike vast wood lots and fields we own which many may not know because they choose to live a different life away from the farm.
2. Put your best foot forward
No matter the situation my father puts his best foot forward. He puts in the effort to achieve a feasible outcome to any scenario. When I first started showing cattle, a world new to me and my father, he would come to the show and support me no matter the placing. One summer while showing at the local county fair, my steer a stubborn Holstein decided to lie down in the ring on the sawdust during my show. The judge was a cranky, older man who docked me of points because it took a village to get my steer up. I was bummed and felt slighted by my steer. After the show, my father was holding my steer as I talked in circles about the unjust of the show. My dad reminded me that what matters the most is that I did my best with the situation at hand and I need to keep doing my best throughout life because trying is better than sitting on the sidelines.
3. A tractor is just like a car
I remember my first driving experience at 10 in the bobcat skid loader. I freaked when my foot pressed a little too hard on the one pedal and then I graduated to learning the drive larger pieces of equipment like the John Deere A and Farmall H. When I brought my friend Cara, from Philadelphia out to our farm and showed her around the equipment we use to harvest corn and forages. She asked my father how the driving a tractor compares to a car; he smiled and said “A tractor is just like a car! Want to jump on one for a drive?” A city girl at heart she declined his offer but, his words do ring true because many farm girls like me can drive both.
My father serves our community as a farmer and local township supervisor. He deals with a lot of complaints or concerns from old and new residents of Robeson Township. Over his 21 years of service, I have watched him in one on ones to board meetings watching and listening to those around him. He never likes to give his opinion right away until he hears the pros and cons of each new policy, zoning, and regulation. He serves the residents and the community environment with no conflicts of interests like some past board members. He knows the township is evolving from the small farming area it once was but, fights to keep what farmland it as available to those who want to continue and keep the tradition of farming alive in the area. He sees that some parts of the township are segregated by finical backgrounds, he sees the traffic as increased on back country roads, and some small business is developing. Some changes he not a huge fan of but, he listens to those changes and works hard for comprises that will allow farming to thrive with our new neighbors from New York City and Jersey.
5. Get creative
Farmers are entrepreneurs are heart and should be given credit for the ways the fixing anything to everything with duct tape, baler twine, and luck. My father has created temporary fixes using all three of those and those fixes hold till the job gets completed. Being that the state is temporary it buys him time to call in parts or correct materials to complete the job before the next use. I find myself using that sense of creativity in the use of baler twine and my writing. My father may not think he is a creative and yet, I watched him use his ability to imagine up uses of baler twine on tractors to the holding a string of gates together after our wooden fence post line got wiped out by a new, young driver.
While there have many lessons and many things I have learned from my father these 5 are skills that are transparent to the other portions of life as a daughter, friend, cattlewoman, communicator, and neighbor. Knowing have these skills in my arsenal is comforting to me as a 20-something who walks different paths with unknown obstacles because these skills are the silent gifts he given me to become a better person in the world.
Cover photo courtesy of Montana Ag Photography