Do Farmers Take Life Too Seriously

Do Farmers Take Life Too Seriously


My wife and I have just returned from a trip to the coast; we couldn’t stay as long as we would have liked to, as we had to get back in time for haying. Now that we are back, we are wondering why it is that we have lived here all these years without taking a trip such as we have taken this summer. We’re both feeling a whole lot better for having taken the holiday, and even though I’m a little over sixty, I feel as though I can hold my own with the boys through another haying and harvest -we’re fortunate in having two boys old enough now to run the farm for themselves.

As we were travelling on the train, we met people from the East and from the various States who were going on what was apparently an annual trip. They were talking with one another about where they had been last year, and what they were going to do next year. We didn’t altogether envy them, but we couldn’t help contrasting their case with our own, and as we got thinking back over the thirty years that have passed since we homesteaded out here, we couldn’t help wondering why we hadn’t taken more real holidays during that time. It’s true that we’d been to Calgary and Edmonton Exhibitions a few times, and had taken in our local shows and picnics, but during all those years we never had been away from the work long enough to forget it for a while, much less get rested up a bit.

There were two main reasons for this: we never felt that we could spare the money that would be required to make such a trip, and we didn’t see how we could leave the family alone to look after things, even though it’s a good many years since the boys were able to do a man’s work. There always seemed to be something that we had to save up for, and always some big job for the summer that had to be done; more breaking to be done each year in order to get a bigger crop to pay for the new land that we’d been buying. It just seems to have been an endless struggle year after year, and each year we’ve been tying ourselves down “closer to the grindstone.” For the last ten or twelve years we’ve always had some money in the bank which we might have used for pleasure purposes, but we couldn’t see how we could afford to throw it away on ourselves. The trouble with us has been, we’ve been so busy working and saving, we haven’t had time to enjoy life as we went along.

I think our case is typical of farmers in general. We get so wrapped up in the work on our farm that we simply can’t see our way clear to leave it for a few days or weeks to enjoy some of the beautiful things that Nature has bestowed upon us--we found that there were plenty of them as we journeyed through the mountains and farther west. As years have gone by this state of things has gradually grown upon us. In our homesteading days, when this struggle for money didn’t exist, we had plenty of time for picnics and social times. There was not the keen competition between farmers, in seeing who could control the most land or pile up the largest bank account, and as a result we got more out of life.

I’m glad my wife and I were able to break away from it this year; we’ve been planning for quite a few years to take a trip, but we’ve just kept putting it off. During the winter we made up our minds that nothing would prevent us from going and even though it cost a good deal for feed, and the spring was late, we left just as soon as the seed was in. When we left we decided that we would have the best that was going--standard sleeper, eat in the diner and stay in the best hotels--for once we would spend some money on ourselves and not let it hurt every time we paid for something. That wasn’t an easy thing either, we found, when it came to paying for meals in the diner and rooms in some of the medium class hotels. We wondered what it must have cost some of the Americans who seemed to be having the best of everything. There really wouldn’t be any satisfaction in taking a holiday the way some of our neighbours have been doing. A neighbour and his wife went East this summer, after having been out here twenty-five years without being back to visit. They have laid away a nice little bank account in the way that we all have in this part, by steady, hard work and saving, but they were afraid to spend any of it on themselves, and as a result I think they spoiled their trip. They travelled tourist, and had enough lunch packed to do them for the entire trip. Now I am not one of the extravagant kind, for I’ve had to work for all that I’ve made, but I do think that after people have worked and saved for twenty-five years they could afford to “step out” on such a trip as these people took this summer. We all might as well spend a little more money on ourselves as we go along, because first thing we know we’ll be too old and worn out to enjoy the things that we expect to have when we retire. We’re taking life too seriously on our farms, we’re wearing ourselves out and getting old before our time. The way the most of us are living now is too much like a race. We are trying to reach some goal on the horizon, and in the heat of the going we get so breathless and panting, we lose sight of all the beautiful country we are passing through, and the first thing we know we'll be old and worn out, and it won’t make any difference whether we’ve reached the goal or not.

We had some time to meditate on our trip, and we have decided to drop out of this race and see some of the country, or, in other words, enjoy a few more pleasures as we go along.

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