I distinctly remember being in the 11th grade and standing in the hall in the Corbett building getting ready to go in and give my speech at the State FFA public speaking contest. Mr. Franklin was drilling me with last minute questions and he asked something about why people keep farming. He didn't like my answer, and said, "Tiffany, why do you really think your parents have the ranch? It's because of you and Little Brother--they have it for the way of life and the ability to spend time together as a family." That man always knew more than me.
My Dad always knows more than me too. I remember one night in high school we were all over at the show barn working with the show animals. As I recall, it had been a particularly rough night---everyone was tired, sheep were not showing well, pigs weighed too much, I'm sure Little Brother was swinging a rope when he shouldn't have been. Somehow, the conversation turned to all the time that we spent at the show barn. My Dad said, "When you kids look back, you may remember all the fights we've had, how dumb you think your parents are, how much work we've done here at this barn, but the main thing is that you will remember that your mom and I were HERE with you kids."
When my friend Pharmer Girl shared the picture below on her blog last week, I knew right away that I had to blog about it. I could not agree more, particularly with the line, "the fondest memories of my life were made possible by Mom and Dad 'cause they spent the time and spent the money."
It's expensive to have a farm. Land, livestock, seed, fuel, equipment, medicines, feed (especially when it does not rain).....that all adds up. Usually to more than the income column. And it's not just expensive monetarially, but time-wise as well. My parents never went on "date nights." They never went on fancy vacations. They weren't members of the country club. They invested their time--themselves--in our farm, and in doing so, in our family. If you ask me, that's the best expense that one can incur.
And the investments made and benefits that I recieved go beyond just parents.
It's grandmas. I can't tell you the hours that Little Brother, Gran and I spent driving around checking cows. Both of us kids learned to drive in that old tan Datsun and little blue Ranger, which Gran didn't need, but I suspect kept just for those driving lessons. We learned to peel an apple without breaking the skin, where the best windmill water was located, and how to watch for snakes curled up next to the fence post when you open a gate. We learned, because she invested.
And it's neighbors as well. People who made you homeade bread at Christmas, who bought any random item that we were selling as fundraisers, who showed up with enchillada casseroles when bad news cam, who helped you find rocks for your science homework, who always complained, "Well I wish y'all wouldn't run off so soon" even when you had been at their house for two hours and eaten your weight in Aunt Jean candies and cherry cheesecake. It's ag teachers and the "show family." The people who would shear the finewool sheep, bring snacks to the show box, and spend weeks driving all over creation to find the lamb to win the banner--and then smack you on the back with tears in his eyes when it worked out as planned. The expenses these people--parents, grandmas, neighbors, ag teachers, family friends--incurred and the time that they spent mean more to me than they will ever know.
It's probably true that you can't put a price on fond memories. But I have a sneaking suspicion that if you could, it might look a lot like those farm leger books that we keep in the file cabinet.