Farmer Focus: Appreciating family in difficult times

May 2016 was very wet. The forecast for the first half of June is very dry, so perhaps we will get caught up with soya bean planting and haying. The wet weather has given me a lot of family time.

I have bought bulls from the same family for 27 years, the patriarch of that family always begins the annual bull auction with a spiel about their number one “product” being their children and now grandchildren.

It might do some good to reflect on that idea. For most of us, the only trace we were ever on earth will be our children. 

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

I was very driven in my early years, too busy to have a family. In my mid-30s it finally hit me that I might well miss out on what was really important in life.

Coming into the child raising game late in life, I am now 48 with a four-year-old son. I sometimes remark to my wife she might not have that big of a gap between changing his diaper and changing mine, only partially joking. 
My son Nathan already shows a fascination with farming, and asks questions constantly. I twice had to take him to see the flipped airplane I mentioned in last month’s article.

On the day of writing this he followed me around while I worked on the planter, commenting on everything from the fact he was not going to run an old combine when he grew up, to debating which one of our three cats is the best.

With low prices, a perplexing government and bad weather it is easy to despair about how bad it is to be a farmer.

If we look for them we have some great benefits too, one being an opportunity for several generations of a family to work together and interact with each other in a way our city cousins seldom can.

This year looks to be stressful for farm families on both sides of the Atlantic. We need to do our best to not let that stress lead to the failure of our most important crop, our family.

If crops fail you get another chance next year, you don’t get that second chance raising children.

I doubt my son will remember anything about the rough start to 2016, but he might remember a sunny afternoon when he and his dad had a long discussion about which cat was best. Memories like that are priceless.

Brian Hind farms 1,250ha of prairie land, of which 960ha is family-owned and the rest rented. Of this, 330ha is arable cropping with maize, soya, grain sorghum, alfalfa plus a mix of rye, triticale and turnips for grazing his herd of 400 beef cattle. Grassland is used to produce hay.

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