What are some of your proudest moments? Mine come as a result of being raised on a farm in Northeastern Colorado. At about this time every year, Colorado wheat farmers meticulously fine-tune their machinery and prepare their families and their own psyche for the annual wheat harvest.
This is a magical time that involves long days filled with hard work in hot fields, a midsummer sun blasting unmercifully from above. The first day starts early with the smell of ripened fields of grain lingering in the air. Farmers armed with grease guns can be found lubricating the huge machines of the harvest, while at the same time last-minute repairs are being made as the harvest crew engages in some early morning banter. The engines are started and the work begins as these metal creatures gracefully glide through acres of farmland, turning waist-high wheat into bushels of amber-colored grain.
A wheat crop has about the same gestation period as a newborn infant and receives just about the same care and attention. My family would begin planting in mid to late September and the harvest would take place sometime around early to mid-July the next year. And, just like so many other things in life, there is a precarious balance of natural and biological stressors that can put a kink in the best plan.
These run the gamut from not enough moisture to too many days of hot winds; from pesky cutworms to wheat leaf rust fungus. And then there’s my all time favorite — hailstorms that pummel wheat plants to wet pulp. Harvest though is definitely the highlight event of the year in farm country, pitting humans against Mother Nature. And Mother Nature has always put the capital “B” in Badass.
Some of my favorite memories are those as an active member of the harvest crew. My job was driving the grain truck, transporting the fresh-cut wheat to the grain elevators and steel bins that house this precious commodity until it was ready to be sold. It was physically challenging work requiring focus and precision — especially as you snuggled the truck up next to the combine to unload the belly of the machine on the go. Carefully maneuvering the truck from combine to combine, I would gather up a full load before racing off to the elevator, unload it and return for more.
I loved being a farm girl. It’s a life that calls for dedication and discipline, careful planning and patience, purpose and passion and the ability to perform hard work with a minimum of griping about it. My opinion? I don’t believe anyone has truly lived until they have churned the earth for its gifts. I am so proud to have come from a place that instilled in me a love of the land and an appreciation of this great country.
To this day, the sound and smell of a diesel engine brings a smile to my face. I still have a photo on a bookshelf that shows five huge combines working in unison in a wheat field, and it is a reminder of my years as a truck driver on the family farm. And while that photo has faded over the years, my memories of those days can evoke tears in my eyes and a lump of pride in my throat every single time I look at that old photograph.
I wish I could explain this feeling better. But even though the words escape me, the honor of having been raised on a farm runs deep. Those fields and tractors and trucks and dirt roads are geographically a great distance from my life these days. But the memories still occupy a sacred place in my heart. There’s a Japanese proverb that reads, “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” And those wheat fields taught me so much. Each acre held within it a life lesson that remains at the core of my being.
Most of us have experienced some form of deep-seated gratification in our lives. I would love to hear from you about your proudest moments. Please leave a comment. You never know when and how you might inspire others.
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About The Author: Annie M. Fonte is the founder and CEO of Meet Me At The Barn — a self-mastery and personal development program designed to help people of purpose achieve their highest level of living. With an MBA from Harvard University, Annie has founded numerous successful ventures in health care, sports medicine, continuing education and hard goods. At Meet Me At The Barn, Annie and her team produce live and online courses that guide clients toward living an authentic life and that help people discover and pursue their true self and passions.