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You can take the boy off the farm, but ...

Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010, at 3:27 PM

Many know farming is a way of life, something that gets into the farmer's blood and stays there. I'm just not sure if people realize how deeply the obsession -- oops, I mean love -- for all things farming goes.

I'm pretty sure when doctors go on vacation, they don't go and visit hospitals or medical equipment companies. And I know when I go on vacation, visiting another newspaper would be the last thing on my list. When people vacation, they often go to get away and forget about work.

But that is not the case for my farmers. It seems no matter where we are at, or where we go, farming is always on their mind.

When they were little it was cute. Once, on a trip to Branson, when our oldest was 2, he pointed out every tractor and every cow. However, not yet savvy to the concepts of traveling, he thought they all belonged to our neighbor. He yelled out the neighbor's name and "COW" every time he saw one-and considering we were going through south Missouri we saw a lot of cows.

On that vacation we went to Silver Dollar City and the rides weren't his favorite part of the trip, as I imagined they would be. Instead, his favorite was the petting zoo. Yes, the goats and sheep, cows, chickens and other farm animals, several of which we had at home, were his favorite part. I was starting to see a pattern.

By the time my second farmer came along I had figured out that "regular" vacations to places with roller coasters and life-sized mice weren't going to fill the bill, so I started to plan around "their" interests.

We've been to a toy tractor factory, where my then-2-year-old was very concerned as we started at the beginning of the line ("Tractee broken, tractee broken") finally feeling better as we moved up the line and the workers added wheels and cabs in the building process.

During that trip we also visited the National Farm Toy Museum. You've heard the saying "Kids in a candy store" well I can tell you when I think of happiness it is two (oops, make that three) boys surrounded by every farm toy ever made. Yes, "Farm boys in a farm toy museum" is my definition of happy.

I snuck in the "Bridges of Madison County" on that trip, as it was the height of the movie's success. At the time, I didn't hear much complaint, but now as they recall the vacation, it is with complete terror they describe how they were "made" to endure bridge after bridge "from some county my mom saw in a chick-flick."

As they got a little older I learned that no matter how much I protested about keeping a time schedule, we would be driving through every implement dealer lot between home and our destination. Now, a less farm savvy person might think that one implement dealer is the same as the other, but as I've learned through the years, that is not true.

There is at least one "treasure" on each lot, and no two dealers are alike. Many times a mere "drive through" has turned into a stop, where we get out and kick tires, look in cabs and study some "rare find."

I've heard some brag they have been to every state in the union, but can they say they've been to every tractor dealer between here and South Dakota -- twice?

So, needless to say, "trial and error" has shown me that traveling with people who love farming, and don't really want to leave in the first place, means you do things that revolve around farming.

We grew up from toy tractor factories and have spent most of our recent family vacations at the Missouri State Fair showing cattle. And we've never ever, missed the family walk over to the machinery section where we "discover" all the newest and best in farm machinery.

Through the years, we've also been able to tour two (real) tractor factories and two combine factories. Now instead of worrying about the broken "tractees" my near adult men are more interested in seeing how the whole system works.

I must admit, I am always amazed that with the help of many American workers, flat pieces of steel are eventually molded into a complex-working combine or tractor by the end of our tour. But since I know I can't cram any more information into my overcrowded brain (If I put too much in there I might forget my sons names) I instead enjoy watching my sons as they take it all in, imagining the cogs in their head "reeling" with the new information.

So instead I find contentment in knowing that if I ever feel the need to know the intricate details of a chopper, separator, manifold or fly wheel, the boys at my house can explain it to me in great detail.

So why am I writing about vacations with harvest about to start?

Well, I seem to have the opposite problem as my farmers who never want to leave farming -- I never want to leave vacation.

But since that isn't possible, instead I spend the time daydreaming about what we might do next year.

You know what they say, "Keep on dreaming!"

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LOL! Grandpa let my little guy drive tractors when we were on vacation and now he thinks he gets to drive every single tractor he sees - and we don't even live on a farm! Want another 2 year old to take to all those implement places & toy tractor factories?

-- Posted by koeller77 on Wed, Sep 15, 2010, at 10:43 AM

Great article, though I do believe this applies to every man that is "passionate" about his work. No matter where we are on vacation his line of work is all around us and is usually pointed out..."would you look at such & such, they did that all wrong, they have done it like so & so" or "Now so & so knew what they were doing when they built that." But, I do understand the farmer thing, right down to the fields...as your driving by some kind of comment will be made as to how the crop is doing.;)

-- Posted by MBGAL on Wed, Sep 29, 2010, at 12:03 PM

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