Sunday, June 01, 2008

Suddenly, it is real...

I have written in Top Producer about our son Aaron coming back to the farm. It has been an interesting evolution, fraught with unexpected emotion and dramatic (to us, at least) plot twists.

Aaron has been working here since March, and good thing too. Without his labor, Jan and I would be in a huge hole. As it is we still have 300 acres of beans to plant when it dries up enough. Here in central Illinois, that isn't a bad position this year. Our corn is all up - although some took 4 weeks to make an appearance.

Meanwhile, I had planned on relatively normal schedule and had booked speaking and meeting events for ...well, this week - and much of June. So all things considered we're in better shape than we deserve.

But tonight we had Aaron and Kris and John (our grandson) for an impromptu dinner and on a whim I asked John (4) if he would like to sleep over at grandpa's tonight. The reply, "Sure!" I don't know who was more surprised - me or his parents.

So I just finished splashing and squirting the bathroom during his tubby, and Jan is inserting the little rascal into bed for (no doubt) the first time. And an occasion we had dreamed about has become real.

Like many farm parents we encouraged our children to get educations and see the "rest of the world". No problem - they couldn't get off the farm fast enough. But when Aaron and Kris began considering returning, it took some time for us to accept it as really possible.

Judging from responses I have had from other surprised farmers, unexpected boomerang offspring may be the rule - not the exception. And our happy financial situation in grain farming right now seems to offer an opportunity to make a return possible. Anyhoo, that's our aim.

But forget the crop and prices and farm program. My son, who has been gone for 15 years is home. And my grandson sleeps in his old bed.

And if you think I am being mawkish, you should see Jan.


Anonymous said...

My dad always joked that encouraging young people to return to the farm was a form of child abuse. It was ultimately my father-in-law who made room for us on the place, and although the past 13 years have not been without their struggles, I think he would verify that close proximity to his grandchildren has made the sacrifice worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind taking a cut in pay to have the grandkids 1/4 mile down the road. 3 of our 4 kids live within a 1/2 mile. Seem to find enough time to make it all work.

alot2learn said...

It sounds like my experience is very similar to Aaron's (liberal arts college, off farm career, realizing that after a few years I really want to farm and move back a mile from dad w/ a wife and 2 little sons). I am trying to start from scratch as my dad never wanted to be very big so there isn't close to enough for 2 families, but I still enjoy my part-time farming career far more than my "real career." I am jealous of guys that are able to have an opportunity like Aaron, but am happy any time someone my age decides to farm - there are so few of us and it make for a lonely living at time.

Anonymous said...

Karl Hess

Our family experience is very similar to John and Aaron. A son coming back seemed unlikely 18 months ago and now he and his wife are living on the other side of our double house and seems to be going well. Spontaneous meals together are priceless. Entertaining large groups of up to 24 people using both kitchens is an enjoyable experience for both women and guests seem almost ‘entranced’ when sitting at a 22 foot table with no plastic in a private home and elbow room as well. Our daughter-in-law tells people in disbelief(theres) that she now lives on a farm in a house next to her in-laws and LOVES IT!!
Separate family business meetings and periodic times of checking on ‘how is it going’ seem to work well. Respecting our children’s privacy and never going to their side of the house without using the outside door and knocking seems to be appreciated. Being able to spot each other to give time off is appreciated and having an extra hand in an emergency if great.
Being able to, with confidence, turn over portions of the operation to the next generation and not worry about its continued success is great as well. We are looking at additional transfer options, and it is encouraging to see rates of returns possible for children transitioning into farming operations today. May there be much success to others willing to pay the price to make it happen. When each generation realizes that they stand tallest with the other standing on their shoulders success may be easier to obtain.

threecollie said...

Our oldest came back ten days ago after four years of college and an internship getting ready to do so. I wish we had enough farm so they could all come back at least for a while, as I am pretty sure that they would in a heartbeat. We have our ups and downs, but working together as a family on the farm as we have, although it hasn't made us rich, has made us strong both individually and as a family.
And it sure is nice not to wonder if I remembered to turn the bulk tank compressor on...if I forget, she remembers.