One learns a lot of life lessons when one grows up on a farm. You learn about how critters get born, how they get made (forget the stork thing), and how they die—some even taste good. You were hit in the face almost on a daily basis with “how things work,” and conversely “how things didn’t work.”
One of the basic things that I learned was that while there were some differences between the days of the week, there were always things that had to be done regardless of the day of the week or year—even on Sunday and Christmas. The cows had to be milked twice a day, the cows had to be fed twice a day, and the cow manure had to be shoveled every day. The chicken’s eggs had to be gathered every day, and they also had to be fed and watered every day. Of course there were many other things that you had better get done every day—but these were the essentials—especially the milking part.
There was no malarkey about the electricity going out or the generator not starting—if you had one. THEY STILL HAD TO BE MILKED. If that meant milking all 60 by hand—that was just the way it was. By the time you let the cows in the barn at milking time they were often already leaking all over the place. You see, cows make milk non-stop, 24/7—they don’t put the equipment in idol while you go golfing or to the Bahamas. If you didn’t milk them they could actually get sick and die—I don’t think they would ever actually explode—but it sure seemed like they were ready to sometimes (look out Monte Python).
It is this type of work ethic that stayed with me my whole life.
It was why then, as it is now, New Year’s Eve was not all that much different than any other night—you still had to get up at 4:30am to milk the cows.
It is for these reasons I have always been a little perplexed by all the fuss that is made over New Year’s and the making of New Year’s resolutions and game plans for the future. On the farm what would that look like? Trying to figure out how to get the cows to milk only once a day but at the same production rate? On the farm you did everything 100% or you didn’t eat in the winter, stay warm in the winter etc. Every day of the year, every hour of the day, was spent working to figure out how to do everything faster and more efficiently—WHILE YOU WERE WORKING AT 100%—it was a way of life not something you wrote on a piece of paper and then forgot about.
On the farm you found your fun in what you were doing—or in the precious moments in between. You learned to take full advantage of those moments and savored them. There were no “required” 10 minute breaks every hour—or paid vacations—although vacations and summer camp did happen when it was opportune to do so. These adventures had to be carefully choreographed to fit into the overall farm plan. There was no making a “plan” to over-ride the “farm plan”—and god forbid if anyone got sick or injured. That is why farm families were so big in the old days—they made full use of their “precious moments” 😉 and they needed the bodies—pretty simple really. How is that for a game plan?
I guess I have always been a bit envious of people that got into New Year’s celebrations.
The sheer will and stamina that it takes to stay up way past my bed time to ring in the New Year has always amazed me. The ability to down drink after drink and still get oneself home seemed impressive as well.
For me, since my farm days, New Year’s Eve has almost always been about doing whatever it takes to stay at home and avoid all the madness that I was never man enough to handle anyway.
It has become a tradition in our home to do a movie marathon around a theme as a way to end the old year. It had no “reason” other than something to do to avoid all the drunk drivers and other lunatics out and about—and still allow me to go about business as usual the next morning. One year it was the Planet of the Apes movies—another year it was Star Wars—-another year it was the trilogy: Three Colors: Blue, White and Red.
I have noticed that as the years go by it becomes more and more difficult to watch more than three movies in a row, but last night we did make it to midnight—but it was by reading a book though, as the sounds of fireworks went off all around us—plus the cows needed milking in the morning.
Happy New Year to you all—may all of your cows get milked, twice a day, all year long.