What Farming Has Taught Me About Quitting



As I white-knuckle gripped the tractor wheel crawling down the muddy trail from a hay field (in the worst of places) to haul bales to the trailer for loading, I thought how farming really isn’t for the faint of heart. And then I laughed, because I’m the most faint of heart person I know. That’s nothing but the truth.

I’m the first to jump off the gator or four-wheeler if we are on a steep slope, for fear of turning over. (Once bitten, twice shy). And when my husband explained numerous times what to do if the tractor started to slip as I was bringing the two bales down, all I could think was that I was going to die. Visions of me rolling over and over down the steep bank in a ball of green metal were all I could think of as he tried to explain to just take it down a gear or worst case, set the front bale down on the ground to stop the tractor. And that required remembering which lever to push which way to do that.

Well, I didn’t die and I didn’t even slip (probably because I came all the way down in third gear instead of fifth, but slow and steady wins the race. I might be blonde, but I’m not always dumb.)

And then hubs and I had a little heart to heart in the tractor cab, which is a great place to have them. (Unless you’ve just turned the rake too hard and busted the fitting on a hydraulic hose and lost 5 gallons of fluid. Then the cab gets a little too tight for heart to hearts. Don’t ask me how I know.)

He then reminded me that when I first came to the farm, I had never driven a tractor. I had never worked cattle. I had never raked or hauled hay. And in the beginning I told myself and him that I couldn’t. But I wanted to. And when anyone wants to do something bad enough, they can do it. He reminded me that if I had quit before I ever started, I’d never have learned – and I’d never have made it down that hill.

It’s true for all of us. If we tell ourselves we can’t, we won’t, because can’t never could. Fortunately for me, I have a husband who is almost as strong-headed as his wife and he keeps me both grounded – and going. Sometimes the best thing someone can do for us – or us for them – is a swift kick to the back wrangler pockets. (Or whatever you wear.)

If my husband had quit the first time a crop failed or a calf died or a piece of equipment broke, this farm wouldn’t be a farm. He wouldn’t be doing what he was born to do and I wouldn’t be doing what I’ve learned to love. Our kids wouldn’t be learning about the cycle of life in a real and tangible way and even more than that, we’d be telling them that quitting is an option.

I don’t care if you farm or sit behind a desk or fly all over the world or wipe bottoms and feed small children every day – quitting isn’t an option. Because quitting leads nowhere and nowhere always ends up being somewhere you aren’t supposed to be.

If you don’t have someone keeping you in drive (even if it’s third gear instead of fifth – forward is forward), then consider this your swift kick from me. That thing you keep saying you can’t do, I’m saying you can. But only if you want to bad enough. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort. But once you decide it is, it always will be.

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