Rest is not quitting the busy career;
Rest is the fitting of self to its sphere.
John Sullivan Dwight
The tractor with the baler behind makes its way down the row of freshly raked hay. There is not a lot of dust rolling, so that means it is of good quality. The baler stops, the hatch opens and a new bale rolls out onto the ground. Perfect I think to myself.
This normally beautiful moment would usually be seen by me from inside the cab of that tractor. It has always been a great celebration day on this farm. The hay season has now begun; the weather is hot and beautiful, and those perfect conditions are what we have hoped for. This year things may be different. This view playing out in front, with its normally celebratory moment, has me as only an observer. The words ‘forced retirement’ run through my mind.
My Hero is the one in the driver’s seat, as I watch this play out. Five fields of hay had been cut the day before, by him. The next day raked by him, and now being baled by him. I love baling hay. To watch this kills me, being only an observer. The guilt bubbles up.
This is not the first time our season has been interrupted and required some changes. About twelve years ago My Hero was told that he must not operate the tractor for a year. To do so would risk permanent damage to his back. That was the year I learned how to use the (scary to me) disc bine. We made it through with patience, determination, and help from those who understand things like this.
“Old back” is what my chiropractor Dr. Scot calls it. Farmers, along with many others who work hard, eventually get to that point where your body finally needs rest and it will not be shy in the way it shouts it out. The work will have to wait. I seem to have come to “my time”. I am lucky, I am pretty sure this will not be anything like the year off thing like My Hero. It is only a temporary inconvenience.
I have never been a patient, patient. To stand here and to look out the window as an observer with a back brace holding the hot then cold compresses on my back, watching My Hero going round and round tells me I have to do this. I have to force myself into a semi-retirement. Since there will be no gold watch, no nice pension or other benefits to my early retirement I choose to keep going. I love my job.
The baler stops, the hatch opens and another bale rolls out into the field. Old back and a young brain, I do believe this combination will make for an interesting season indeed.
Dr. Scot will get me back on track soon enough. The guilt will change back to exhilaration with every new bale that pops out of the back of that old baler. I cannot wait. Do not count me out just yet you "old back" you.
Bale count 80, thanks to My Hero.
There is no shame in admitting your weaknesses, no matter what they are. Be safe out there all you farmers.
Happy Father’s Day, to all those Dads out there. I miss you, Dad.