After my Farmer and I met in October of 1998, we dated from opposite ends of the state of North Dakota. I was going to college at Concordia in Moorhead, MN ( Fargo’s twin city) working on a degree in elementary education and he at Dickinson State in Dickinson, ND on an Ag Sales and Service and Farm and Ranch Management. The trip was about four and a half hours straight down Interstate 94. So needless to say we supported the fuel and telephone industry heavily for a year and a half.
In the first six months of dating, I had visited the farm a few times, but being that it was the end of harvest when we met and spring’s work hadn’t ventured into full swing when this part of my journey took place, I hadn’t experienced a lot and didn’t know exactly what farming was all about. Despite my lack of insight, I did pick up on a few things…
- Farming was not just a job, but a lifestyle and business.
- That yes, there are “slower” times, but there is always something to do.
- That times can get tough- family, money, balancing multiple tasks, etc. – but that hard work, faith and looking ahead can make all the difference.
- This was something that my Farmer had in his blood and when you looked into his eyes, it was something he was honored to have the opportunity to be a part of.
And so it was this information that I kept tucked deep down inside as we spent months emailing, on the phone, in the car, and of course on our college studies. Little did I know that these four thoughts were really even there or that they would come in handy!
You see, one day, I believe in April of 1999, I headed out to Dickinson from Moorhead. I decided to switch a work shift and leave a few hours early. I am a planner, so something spontaneous like this was not of my nature and out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, I jumped into my car and off I went.
As I pulled into Dickinson it was about 11:30am. I knew my Farmer would be working at the front desk of his dorm. I figured I would be sweet, stop at Hardee’s, and pick up some lunch. I got lunch and drove up to his dorm. I walked in the front door and noticed his back was to me. I approached the window and realized he was on the phone. He spun around, his eyes bugging out and his finger held to his lips- shh! What? I drove all this way and I get the “What are you doing here?” look and a shhhhh?
So I went and sat in the sitting area. A minute later he was finished. He called my name and I walked back to the window. He told me to come into the office and that we had to talk. Again, I was thinking, “Great. Now we have to talk. He didn’t even say ‘hi’!”
As I entered, I handed him his lunch and sat down on a chair. I instantly got that “you are going to dump me” feeling, but I sat patiently. He started talking about his telephone call. Explaining to me whom he had been talking to, why, and that he wasn’t sure how I would respond. My Farmer had just been offered the chance that he had been hoping for since before he could remember, the chance to farm a piece of land that was all his. He was nervous as he told me. I was a city girl. One who didn’t know much about wide open spaces, dirt, or machines. He wondered if this news would chase me away.
As he explained his phone call I felt a sense of relief. He wasn’t dumping me and there was no one else. He was excited. He was ready. He was going to be a farmer. Inside I was nervous, but also jealous. His dreams were being set into action and I felt like my plans were still liquid jello being mixed up without a mold to be poured in.
It was at that minute that those four little pieces of information came floating to the surface. Although I cannot recall the words I said, I know I shared my excitement for him. I knew that this was an opportunity not to be passed up. I knew that if things were meant to be, that our relationship would endure, grow and work out. For as I have told many people, land cannot be picked up and moved, but teachers are needed everywhere. And in the back of my mind, I knew that if nothing else, I could wait tables at the cafe’…. a full-time farmer, farmer’s wife…. I had no idea that was even an option, nor did I have a clue what I was getting into. Sometimes what you don’t know is so totally worth it!
And so, my farm journey continued.
Stay tuned for the next “My Farm Journey” post when I share about some of my transition challenges.