Haying and Raising Children

I think my hair turns more gray during haying season. I can almost feel the color drain out of it as I watch the skies and listen to the weather forecast.

Someone once told me that farming was the only form of legal gambling in all 50 states. I think this is an apt description especially when it comes to cutting hay because in the end you may have better odds playing 21 than getting your hay up dry and and in good order. There is an element to the farmers life that no matter how experienced or skilled he (or she) may be, somethings are completely out of their control, especially the weather. Farming is one of those careers that teaches us to grow our faith in God.

Lets take the simple (oh such an understatement) act of growing and putting up hay.

First there is the foundation work of testing the soil, fertilizing, tilling, rolling the field and planting the seed. We pick a season that we know the grasses will have the most opportunity to take root and grow. We pray for rains at the right time and in the right amounts. We consider carefully what types of seed we wish to plant and then pray that the seed we planted is good and will take root as intended. We pray that weeds do not choke out our seed or that the grasses grow strong and tall enough to take the dominant place in our field. We take precautions to keep the pocket gophers at bay We pray for long, hot sunshine days to help the young plants grow strong and tall. And then after all the waiting is done, the grass is tall and the alfalfa is in the proper bloom, we watch for the window of opportunity to cut and rake and bale which is probably the hardest and most helpless feeling of all. And usually when I start to feel my hair turn gray.

Hard work, timing, patience and a whole lot of faith

Haying time is illustrative of parenting at its finest. Every year after the icy snow is gone and the grasses begin their growth, I am struck anew by the similarities.

Making hay is equally as stressful as parenting…. You plan, you watch, you put a lot of thought and effort into making good decisions and hoping they were the right ones…. You lose sleep wondering if everything’s okay, you encourage the right friendships and discourage the unhealthy ones. You put the good things in front of your child and keep the bad things far away from them. You watch on the horizon for the storms to come, praying that you have provided them the strength and endurance to withstand them. But, no matter how hard you labor, your child is in God’s hands, and you can only sit by and watch and wait and turn a little more gray. I suppose it is silly to think of it this way but after raising 8 children I am greatly struck by the similarities.

Is raising kids just another form of legal gambling? I think this is where the similarity ends. Because in the end, as a believer, these children God has given me are really his own children that he has tasked me with the job of caregiving. In the end..they are His kids. He is the “farmer” and the harvest belongs to Him. I just need to be a faithful steward of the gifts He has given. I find great comfort in that and in a small way it preserves my hair color.