No Instruction Manual

early emergence beans

The fact that you can drive around any country block today and see some sort of plant emergence represents the promise of better days.

Between COVID-19 changing how American’s live day-to-day and a cold, damp spring (rain is pounding the window as I write this), this place could use some fresh air and sunshine.

Farming is a profession of hope.

You put millions of tiny, unassuming seeds in the ground, cover them up, then hope for sunshine and timely rain. You drive around weekly (or, daily) scouting fields for the first sign of emergence indicating that a tiny sprout was so mighty that it broke through million-year-old dirt with a story. All of this, while you continue to hope for sunshine and timely rain.

Dirt

Life’s most valuable skills don’t come with an instruction manual and it seems we’ve learned so many of them in this profession.

 

Patience

pa·tience

/ˈpāSHəns/

noun

the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

In farming, patience can be found when growing degree days are minimal and you have an expectation of emergence that simply isn’t happening. Patience is best learned and utilized when an implement breaks down or a spotty shower shows up and lingers on your last 50 acres to get in the ground.

 

Optimism

op·ti·mism

/ˈäptəˌmizəm/

noun

hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

In farming, optimism can be found when opening up a field to harvest in October and or pulling onto the co-op scales to sample and weigh your product.  Optimism is best learned and utilized when you’re staring in the face of low commodity prices but you remember that all things are cyclical.

 

Faith

/fāTH/

noun

complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

In farming, faith can be found everywhere, including when you’re actually in the act of planting the seed, or climbing in the bin for maintenance or driving the semi through a busy intersection. Faith is best learned and utilized daily, when your feet hit the floor and you begin another day to produce food to feed people who you’ll never have the opportunity to meet.

With greased, calloused hands we’ve leafed through hundreds of instruction manuals with loose covers and marked pages in our lifetime.

But perhaps the greatest guidance we require to get this farming job done comes from within.

 

Screen Shot 2019-11-06 at 11.52.30 AM

 

 

It’s (Not) Just a Tractor

For years we’ve partnered with a calendar company to design antique tractor calendars for our farmer-members. Our fuel and propane drivers hand them out to customers over the fall months, our ag centers keep a stack on the counter so our farmer-members can grab one when they come in to request an order and our Richmond office displays a stack so folks can take one when they’re in to pay a bill.

About eight years ago we decided to do something different and instead of using antique tractors as the monthly photo, we did a calendar with photos of rural America. Month by month, the calendar displayed hidden gems across the US, sunsets in fly-over states, New England in the fall and Utah in the white winter months. It turned out beautifully and we thought our members would love it.

Boy, were we wrong. 

We received so much push back and verbalized disappointment from our customers because we didn’t distribute an antique tractor calendar that year. We had no idea how much our customers looked forward to such a small gesture. We learned that those calendars reminded them of their dad, or granddad, or sweet mother, or their growing up years on the farm. We learned it was not just a calendar. We also learned it’s not just a tractor. 

IMG_4477

It’s not just a tractor. It’s where you learned, and earned, a little bit of freedom out in an open field for the first time.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s a sound that resonates with power, and progress and passion.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s the memory of working alongside your granddad who was – and still is – the most admirable person you’ve ever known.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s the only thing that could get down Marshall Road to the livestock during the Blizzard of 1978.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s the thrill you got when first riding on the fender and watching the hypnotic tire tread roll down the road to a rhythmic rumble.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s how we came to realize that if children were self-starters, mothers wouldn’t have to be such cranks.IMG_0392

It’s not just a tractor. It’s the place from which you dared your sister to jump from the highest step, and she earned her first set of stitches.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s where your good, faithful, favorite, dog rode on the fender with you while spreading manure, making one of the most boring jobs on the farm more enjoyable.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s the pride in making an investment that will serve your generation and the next.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s the machine you used to introduce new technology and practices to the farm, including no-till planting, cover crops and GPS.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s the memory of riding on the platform behind your dad while he lead you into the next great adventure.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s the place where you strap your pride and joy into the buddy seat and feel their head against your arm, or see it bouncing off the window, fifteen minutes later. A tractor is a fine resting spot for youth.

90It’s not just a tractor. It’s the place where your father thought he was teaching you about mechanics, but you also picked up on a whole new vocabulary.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s a vision of restoration come to life, preserving a time capsule of labor and memories for years and years to come.

It’s not just a tractor. It’s a machine that allowed our families to work the ground and plant a seed in the spring, mow and bale the hay in the summer, pull the grain cart in the fall and plow the neighbor’s drive in the winter. It’s a tool for growing and harvesting a lifestyle that can’t be replaced.

It’s not just a tractor. And we’ve learned it’s not just a calendar, either. Stop by your local ag center today to pick one a Harvest Land calendar for 2020.

What has your tractor meant to you? We invite you to comment below.

2020 CALENDAR COVER

 

 

hl_logo_vert_4c copy