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Summertime, and the Livin’ Is Not So Easy if You're a Farmer

Aug 16, 2023Aug 16, 2023

Summer is now upon us folks.

And while summer looks one way for urban and suburban dwellers, for us farmers, it can be a whole other situation. It's the busy growing season and most of us are committed to near daily hands-on care of the fruit, vegetables, herbs, grapevines, hopyards, orchards, flowers and animals on our farms. So while others’ social media feeds are filled with photos from the beach, the pool and theme parks, we’re over here trying to figure out how to avoid heat stroke in the fields.

I don't know if the rest of you have this issue, but for me, it's the not-so-fun part of the farming lifestyle. I have to work to not be disheartened by all the things I see other families doing, that we are not.

Enter the mom guilt, when we have to skip yet another neighbor kid's birthday party because we have to work. I get pulled between what I know we need to do for the farm, and what I wish we could do more of as a family to build those precious memories in years that are fast fleeting.

This past weekend — Memorial Day weekend — was one of those times. We had been planning for months to use the three days as an opportunity to hit the highlights of all three things:

• Saturday working in the vineyard/winery

• Sunday at home to catch up on all the chores

• Monday finally out with friends on the boat, basking in a much-needed and earned day of fun in the sun.

Mother Nature, however, had other plans. Saturday turned out to be the only sunny day, with full days of rain in the forecast on Sunday and Monday — so the boat plans got moved up. Now everyone else would be doing fun in the sun, while we worked. (Cue me, trying to work on my inner resentment and make peace with it.) We wanted our boy to enjoy the weekend though, so our friends picked him up and tucked him into the herd with their three other boys for the day, and he went off to live his best life on the river's sandy shores.

I was driving to the farm when my "bestie" called back on the phone. "Look," she said, "work the winery, then when you’re done, just come on down to our place, and sleep over here. We’ll have the kids in bed by the time you get here around 9 p.m."

She continued, "We’ll open a bottle of wine, have a girls’ night and do breakfast in the morning with the rugrats. Then you can decide how you want to spend the day from there, depending on the weather."

My mood immediately improved! Getting creative with my time and situation would make it more fun. So that's what I did. I went in to the winery with more pep in my step.

I enjoyed chatting with customers on the beautiful sunny day, and planned for after- work fun. I visited hubby out in the vineyard and told him we three girls were going to do a sleepover with the kids ... and he’d have the house to himself that night for some downtime (my husband is a classic introvert). Tomorrow we could play by ear depending on the weather.

We wrapped up a busy day at the winery. I lugged the trash out to the dumpsters, picked up hubby from down the road where he had moved a tractor and brought him back to his truck. Then we headed home.

After a quick shower and throwing more clothes for my son and me in a bag, I hit the road with the windows down and the tunes up.

After a run through the Taco Bell drive-thru for dinner (another treat for me!), I pulled down their gravel driveway at about a quarter 'til nine.

The girls were waiting up, all the boys were in bed and Becca had two bottles of wine chilling in the fridge. We sat in Lauren's kitchen for at least two hours, laughing, catching up and sorting through the pile of mail and children's drawings on the kitchen table.

The work got done, memories were made and I was reminded there's little joys to be found everywhere when you are creative enough to work them in. That's my mantra moving forward for the busy summer season. Work hard, but play when you can, and find the joy in both.

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Shelby Watson-Hampton is a farmer, wife, mom and freelance writer who thrives on creativity, people, coffee and a good cabernet sauvignon.

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