Archive | Life Events RSS feed for this section

I Don’t Want To Go To Bed

13 Feb

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

I Don’t Want To Go To Bed

                Christmas is a very special time of the year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. It’s a time of fellowship and love, and the giving of gifts one to another. It’s also a time when children look excitedly at opening all the brightly wrapped presents under the Christmas tree.

I remember one Christmas in particular when we had sat down and read the beautiful account of Jesus’ birth out of Luke chapter two. If it wasn’t in the Bible it would be almost impossible to believe that God would come like He did to save us sinners. What Love!

Joanne prepared an exceptional Christmas dinner and we ate and ate. And as we ate, we fellowshipped around all that the Lord had done for us. It is so good to count our many blessings and name them one by one. Even when we have had hard or difficult times, it’s still amazing to look back and see how good God has been to us. Even this year with COVID-19 and all the unrest in this country and around the world, we have so much to be thankful for.

After the table was all cleared, and our wonderful cook, Joanne, was thanked for all the work and love she put into the special meal, we headed into the living room. There our Christmas tree, which we had cut earlier out of our own woods, was beautifully decorated with lots of presents underneath it.

Our young children’s eyes were all sparkling and they had big joyous smiles on their faces as they eagerly awaited opening the presents. Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year of giving and receiving gifts. And it seems children make it much more special. Well, our children received a number of gifts, of which some were new toys to play with, along with a number of new tools. Our children really liked to get new tools that they could use to help me fix things with on the farm here.

Well, after a while it was time to go out and do the evening chores: milking the cows, feeding the calves and giving the cows some fresh hay to munch on overnight. Then it was quickly into the house for the children to play with all their new toys and tools.

As it got way late, bedtime, something totally unexpected happened. Catherine started crying. We were startled and asked her what was wrong. Her reply, “I’m so tired, I just can’t stay awake, but I don’t want to go to bed, I just want to keep playing with all my new toys.” With that, we as parents had to smile and laugh. We told her it was bedtime and that tomorrow she could play with her toys a lot more. What a wonderful Christmas Day we had and it continued for many days after.

It’s sad that in this world today, so many people don’t know the real meaning of Christmas. To be politically correct it’s, “Happy Holidays”, or something else. But when you remove Jesus from Christmas, it’s very empty. That’s why there are so many suicides and so much depression after Christmas. And there’s so very little love in so many families today. But when you have Jesus you have love, joy and peace. Whether you have a Christmas tree with presents or not, if you have Jesus, you have everything. If you want to have a wonderful Christmas this year with all the unrest in the world, invite Jesus into your heart and home. He is what Christmas is all about. And you can go to bed Christmas Day night and every night thereafter with The Prince of Peace in your heart.

From our family to yours, have a blessed, Christ-filled Christmas.

It’ll Cost You

22 Jan

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By:  Tom Heck

It’ll Cost You

                It was the middle of the summer, and the day dawned bright and sunny.  A perfect hay-making day.  We were thankful since we had a large field of hay cut to chop into the silo that afternoon.  The weather forecasters were predicting heavy rain for the coming night, so we along with a lot of other farmers were anxious to get the hay off.

We were able to start chopping shortly after noon that day; I had chopped just two rounds off the field when I noticed a silver-colored pickup driving down my field road towards me.  I wondered who that could be and what they wanted.  I had one thing on my mind and that was getting my beautiful hay off before the heavy rain was due to come the coming night.  Needless to say, other farmers were thinking just like I was.  As the pickup got closer, I saw it was my neighbor, Harley, who farmed a couple miles down the road from me.

Harley had an urgent request, could I come and bale his small field of hay.  He had had another farmer lined up to bale it, but that farmer had too much of his own to bale, so there was no way that he could make it.  Harley was getting out of crop farming and had just sold me his baler a couple of months before.

I looked over my own hayfield and told Harley that I had to get mine chopped and then I would try to get to his place and bale his hay.  I told him that it wouldn’t be before 5 o’clock though.  He said that if I didn’t get there till 6 or 7 that would be fine, he would go back home and rake his hay.

As he was turning to leave, I said to him, “It’ll cost you.”  He quickly turned back around with a real serious look on his face.  I then asked him, “Do you have a couple packages of frozen bluegills in the freezer?”  He broke into a big smile and replied that he did.  Now, Harley is an excellent fisherman and catches a lot of fish, so I knew I wasn’t asking too much.  Nothing beats bluegills fried in butter; they’re just delicious!

Well, we kept moving real fast, and got our hay off; then we hooked the baler up to the tractor and I got down to Harley’s at ten minutes to five.  We had done better than what I thought possible.  Harley was ready and waiting for me. I went right to baling and had his small field off in less than an hour.  There was an excellent crop on it and Harley was sure relieved to have it off.  As soon as I got done, he took me to the house and pulled two packages of bluegills out of the freezer.  With that I headed home.  And that night it poured, but we were sure happy, because we had our hay all off.  For supper the next day we had bluegills, compliments of Harley.

A lot of people think they can live their lives just for self; if they hurt others it’s no big deal to them as long as they profit by it.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  It will cost them.  The Bible tells us that there is a Judgment Day coming for everyone, where we will each give an accounting for all that we have done.  For those who have not followed the Lord and His ways, it will cost them dearly.  But for the righteous, for those who have followed their Lord, it will be an eternity with Him beyond their best dreams.  I learned a long time ago that the best, most rewarding life, is one fully given to Jesus.

That’s Stupid

6 Jan

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

That’s Stupid

                Sometimes farm kids look at things totally different than other people do. Such is the case in what happened many years ago, in my Sunday school classroom, when I was a small child. My Sunday school teacher, who was a nice lady, who lived in town, opened the class on this particular day by reading the portion of Scripture from Luke 12:16-21, “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

I sat there stunned as my teacher read this; this was the first time in my life I had heard this read. This was talking about farming, so it had 100 percent of my attention, since I was a farm boy. I was absolutely amazed at what the teacher read. When she got done reading, she turned to the class and in a real nice voice said, “What do you think of that?” I normally didn’t speak up in class at all, but that day I was so captivated I just blurted out, “That’s stupid.” The teacher was horrified at my response. Her teacher training had not prepared her for this. She was silent for a while not knowing what to do. Finally she managed to say, “Why do you say that?” I quickly responded, “A good farmer doesn’t tear down his good barns that are producing profitably already, he keeps them producing, and builds bigger barns to produce even more. This farmer tore down his good barns! That’s stupid.” The teacher stood in front of the class totally dumb-founded, not knowing how to respond. Finally, after a fair while the teacher said, “Let’s turn to our lesson and see what it says.” From there she went on, not asking the class any more questions. She didn’t want to get into any more predicaments that day.

Looking back on it, there certainly was some truth in what I said, and I’m sure the Lord must have smiled that day when He heard what a young farm boy said in response to His parable. I do admit now, that I certainly missed the point of it that day, but at least I was honest. Being truthful goes a long ways with God.

The Lord didn’t condemn the man for wanting to build bigger barns; He condemned him for living 100 percent for self in this life. He was very rich on this earth, but he was totally bankrupt towards God. And God didn’t say he was stupid, He said he was a fool, which is far worse. How can he be rich towards God you ask? The Scriptures tell us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” It starts by having a personal relationship with the Lord, and then living every day fully for Him. And then He goes on to give an amazing promise that all things that you need will be added unto you. That includes a bigger barn if you need it!

I have a nice small, old barn, and I’m not planning on building a bigger barn. A lot of farmers are building much bigger barns these days, and that’s their choice. I hope they’re not building just for self; I hope they’re also rich towards God. Someday, like the rich farmer in the Bible, we will all stand before God and give an accounting. My heart’s desire is to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord.”   I certainly don’t want to hear Him say, “Thou fool.”

Great Opportunities Arise

14 Aug

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

Great Opportunities Arise

                Sometimes in life certain things just naturally happen that turn into great opportunities to teach children great lessons that they will remember the rest of their lives. Such is what happened here unexpectedly years ago.

We needed some work done on top of one of our silos, since it was sixty feet up in the air and there was not much to hang on to, I called in an experienced silo man to do it. Dino came and climbed right up there with his tools and went to work.   After a couple hours, he had it fixed and I paid him. I thought it was all done and taken care of, but I was in for a surprise.

About two months later, our son, Joshua, was out by that silo and saw something shiny sticking about one inch out of the ground by a big burdock weed. He tried to pull it out, but couldn’t. So he showed it to me, and I was able to pull it out. It was a vise-grip. We cleaned it up, it was in excellent condition yet. Joshua wondered how it got there in the ground. I realized Dino had accidently dropped it nose first when he was working on top of the silo. That’s why it went into the ground as far as it did. By the time he got the job done, he had forgotten about it.

Now Joshua, from a way small boy on, has really liked tools. So he was really excited to find this tool. He wondered how it had gotten there. Once I had put all the pieces together, I explained it to him. He could see that it all made perfect sense.

Then I asked him what he was going to do with it, since he was the one who found it. He thought real hard on it and then said, “I suppose we should give it back to Dino.” I replied, “Yes, that’s what you should do. That’s the right thing to do.” Joshua’s eyes got kind a big and he said to me, “Can’t you give it back to him, Dad?” I said, “No, you found it, you should give it back to him and tell him how you found it.” I could tell he was a little afraid to do it, so I said to him, “Dino is coming back in a few weeks to do some work on another silo for us, then you can give it to him; I’ll be there right by your side.” He was relieved when I told him that.

Needless to say, I was very proud of him, that he had chosen to do the right thing. There’s a saying, “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” Many people live by that saying, but it’s totally wrong. It’s always right to give back to a person something they lost if at all possible.

Since Joshua was a way small boy and doing the right thing, I wanted him to be rewarded in a small way. I knew by so doing, it could really help to build good character. Unfortunately, good character is so lacking in many people in this world today.

So without Joshua knowing it, I called Dino up and told him the whole story. I told Dino that I wanted him to reward Joshua in a small way for his honesty. I told him it could be like a one-dollar bill or something else, but that I would reimburse him afterwards for it. He told me that he would give Joshua something, but that it was on him. He wouldn’t take anything from me. So all I could tell him was, “Thank you.”

It was a bright sunny day when Dino drove up by our silos. Joshua got the vice-grip and together we greeted Dino. Joshua handed the tool to him and told him the whole story. Dino took it and thanked Joshua for it. He looked it over and said that it definitely was his. He then thanked Joshua for it and told him that he wanted him to have it for being honest with him. With that, he handed it back to Joshua. Joshua was thrilled; he got a great big smile on his face and thanked Dino for it. Dino then went on to tell us that he has many farmers who look for opportunities to steal tools from him. They will steal while he’s working on their farms, or when he accidently leaves something behind, they don’t give it back to him. How sad, how dishonest, how sinful.

Joshua still has that tool in his toolbox today. He always remembers how Dino gave it to him for being honest. I’m so thankful that Dino did that. It helped to reinforce the biblical values we had been teaching him. When it happened, I could see it was a great opportunity to do so; that’s why I called Dino up.

The Bible says in Prov. 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” God expects parents to teach their children His ways. Parents do that by living rightly themselves and thereby setting a good example for their children. Also, great opportunities arise that can be used to teach children God’s ways.   And they will remember them the rest of their lives. Joshua does these many years later, every time he sees that vise-grip in his toolbox.

Great-Great-Grandma Elbert Had The Answer For Today’s Problems

3 Jul

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

Great-Great-Grandma Elbert Had The Answer For Today’s Problems

                There are people who lived years ago, that the world considered just ordinary people. But, the lives they lived, and the influence they had, goes on long after they’re dead and gone. Such was the life of my great-great-grandma, Mary (Marie) Elbert.

Mary Ziehlsdorf was born in Germany on June 24, 1834, and as a child gave her life to God. Later on her family immigrated to the United States settling in Wisconsin. There she met and married Philip Elbert. Together they farmed, working very hard to provide for themselves and their family. And what a family they had, eleven children!

Life wasn’t easy for them; they had lots of trials and challenges, obviously. And there were no government programs to help them out. Moreover, they didn’t expect any help from the government. They worked hard with their hands and looked to God to provide for them, and He always did.

It didn’t matter what the weather was like outside, or what problems they were facing that day, Mary would always start her day with a song and prayer. I wonder, if all Americans would do that today, what kind of a nation would we have? I can tell you one thing for sure, it would be vastly different.

It was said of Mary that she was a ray of sunshine to her family and friends, a loving teacher and advisor. It was said that she always went to the Lord in times of trouble and she always encouraged others to do the same.

People today would be shocked and amazed if they knew what Mary’s greatest enjoyment in life was. Her family all testified to what it was: it was having her family gather about her so she could read them the Word of God.

It was said that her husband and children loved and adored her with all their hearts. The world would consider her just an ordinary woman, but I consider her a great woman, but what’s more important is that I believe God considers her a great woman. And in the end, it’s what God thinks that really matters.

In today’s world, we have many, many problems. Many people don’t know what to do or where to turn. People turn to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sports, tv, or many other things that don’t help them out at all. Mary knew where to turn and did it every day. To God: in the Bible, in prayer and in worship. And her testimony was that God never failed her. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He will not fail you, if you come to Him like Mary did. I know, I’m Mary’s great-great-grandson, and He’s never failed me either.

No, This Is Good For Me

31 May

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

No, This Is Good For Me

                In our culture today, so many people complain about hard work. By the way they talk about it, you would think it’s something that should be avoided if at all possible. But wise people know better. It always makes me think back to an incident that happened years ago on our farm here.

The only way we had to heat our house here years ago was with firewood. So in the wintertime I would cut a lot of it. I was very blessed to have an older man who was retired who would come and help us quite regularly. He always enjoyed coming out to the farm and helping us. Lots of times he would come out once a week; so in the winter time when he was here we would usually head to the woods to make firewood. He was a great blessing to us and he greatly enjoyed helping us.

He was here one day in early March and before he left, he asked me a question. “Would it be alright if I brought my nephew, Dave, along next time I come? He’s a foreman on a bridge building crew and he’s been laid off all winter. He would like to come help us.” I replied, “Sure, I’m not one to turn down good help.”

The next week came, and they showed up at our farm. We hit it off well right away. Dave was a big strong guy that looked like he had chosen the right career. Since I had two strong men to help me that day, I had decided to harvest a great big, old, twisted-up oak tree that leaned out over one of our fields.

They were ready and eager to go at it. We got the tree cut down and brushed it out and then started cutting it up into hunks of firewood. We loaded the smaller hunks onto our trailer, and the bigger ones we started to split with a mall and wedges. I didn’t own a wood splitter back then so that was the way we had to do it. Bob did most of the chainsaw work, while Dave and I did the splitting and loading of it.

The sun was getting low in the sky by the time we were down to the last two big hunks of wood to split and load. Dave was all done in; he hadn’t worked this hard in a long time. He was so worn-out, that he got down on his knees to split the last two hunks. I was really worn-out too, but I felt bad seeing Dave down on his knees swinging the mall for all that he had. I said to Dave, “I can finish that.” His response?   “No, this is good for me.” I was shocked to hear him say that. I replied, “Dave, you’re all worn-out, I can finish it.” His response back, “No, this is good for me. The bridge building plant I work for got sold and the new owners are coming in next week. I’ve got to be there and I want to make a good impression on them. I use a mall and wedges often when I’m building bridges.” So I stood back and let him finish splitting those two hard hunks of oak.

Well, we got the wood home and they were about ready to leave and Dave came up to me and thanked me for letting him come and help us that day. I was surprised and thanked him for all his help. I told him that I should give him something for all his help that afternoon, but he wouldn’t hear of it. His response, “No, this was good for me.” With that they left and I never did see Dave ever again; although, I know he did go on to build many more bridges. And I’m sure he was a fine bridge builder with the work ethic that he had.

God created all things, and that includes work. Work should be enjoyable, profitable and fulfilling. I find it very fulfilling at the end of a long day when I can look back on it and see what we’ve accomplished. There’s a real satisfaction in it. I know Dave would agree with me on that, even when he was down on his knees swinging my mall!

 

The Flying Cat

9 Apr

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

The Flying Cat

                Years ago, when my wife and I bought our farm, some friends had a farmwarming party for us. Among the guests who came that day were Ed and Ruth from the local feed mill. The gift they brought us sure surprised us – a pair of Siamese cats. They obviously knew we could use a couple of good cats to keep the mice and rats in check. They were a beautiful cream color with dark ears and tails. And Ruth had to decorate them up with a pink ribbon around each of their necks. They were a very good gift.

Our barn became their new home and they adjusted very well. They became our pets along with being our rodent controllers. Our young daughter, Catherine just loved them. The male cat, Tom, grew to be a large cat and an outstanding hunter. One day I found him playing in the middle of the yard. He had caught two large mice and was playing catch and release with both of them at the same time! He would put both mice down and they would take off in different directions, then he would catch one and then quickly turn around and catch the other one.

I watched him in amazement for a couple of minutes and decided I better end his game before one of the mice got away. So I came up to him and started to pet him, and he let both mice go again. While he was catching the first one, I stepped on the second one and took it away without him seeing it. I took it to the barn and gave it to a little kitty that the other cat had had that spring. The little kitty ate it down quickly. I figured one mouse was enough for Tom with the way he was playing with them. I did notice as I went about my work that Tom stayed in that area for awhile looking for the one that “got away”. He seemed very bewildered by it. Needless to say, I didn’t feel sorry for him.

Well, winter came, and our cats hunted around the barn and silos for mice and rats. They were doing an excellent job keeping them under control. Tom was the real character though. You just never knew where he would be or what he would be up to. We could be milking cows and he could be on top of the main beam above the cows. The next thing, he would be flying over the cows, landing in front of them on a mouse. The cows would be so startled, they would jump back and the milker would drop off. We would just have to smile and say that Tom was doing his job.

Being that kind of a cat though was fairly dangerous. It almost cost him his life once. It was January, and I headed out to the barn in the dark to start my early morning chores. I pushed the feed up to the cows and went to the silo room to get the corn cart so that I could feed the cows their corn before milking them.

I opened up the door and stepped in a few steps to get the cart. All of a sudden a varmint came down on my head with its claws digging into my neck. I didn’t know if it was a raccoon or what, I just knew I had to get it. I reached around to the back side of my neck and got a handful of fur. I grabbed it and started to throw it down to the cement with all my might, intent on killing it. At the last split second a thought went through my mind, “That could be Tom.” So I stopped throwing him with all my might and just dropped him to the floor. Sure enough, it was Tom. He looked at me bewildered and ran into the barn. He was surprised at my rough treatment of him. What happened was he was sitting up in the rafters of the silo room hunting, and I came in, and I think a mouse must have run next to the silo chute, and he made one of his long jumps to get it and ended up landing on my head and neck.

Later on, even though I had scratch marks on my neck from him, I petted him and made up with him. They say that cats have nine lives, if that is true; I know he lost one of his that morning.

In life, in dealing with family and others, there will be accidents and misunderstandings. We need to be very careful in our responses, because wrong words and actions can cause a lot of hurt. There needs to be plenty of grace, mercy and forgiveness. I’m sure glad that I didn’t kill Tom that morning and that I was able to make up with him afterwards. In the Bible we are instructed to: Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. That is a good thing to always remember.

So Much To Be Thankful For

13 Feb

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

So Much To Be Thankful For

                With Thanksgiving here, it’s a good time to look back on the year and see how the Lord has safely brought us through another year and blessed us. This year certainly wasn’t an easy one. We had a hard winter with lots of snow and ice. When spring came, we found out that most of our hayfields had winterkilled. And spring into summer was very cold and very wet. It was a real challenge getting the crops planted, and there were some spots we didn’t get planted at all. I did manage to get my big tractor planted twice, which wasn’t hard to do. It was hard to get out though! My neighbor, Dean, pulled me out with his big, four-wheel drive tractor. I’m thankful for good neighbors.

First crop hay came, and we knew it wouldn’t be near as much as normal because of the winterkill, but we were disappointed at how little there was. Right after we had it off, we sat down as a family and talked the situation over, and decided we had better sell off a portion of our dairy herd to stretch our feed supply further. It was a tough thing for us to do, but it was the right thing. Unfortunately, it also made for smaller milk checks this summer. We do have a good group of springing heifers coming in over the next three months so we’re hoping to get our barn back full. That will be wonderful. We hate seeing so many empty stalls in our barn.

Second and third crop hay did fair and we got two cuttings off of our new seeding.

And then in the middle of all that, July 19th came. It was late afternoon and the skies turned very dark and the yard light came on. The skies then turned a pale green, and we knew we were in for a terrible storm. We headed to the basement and for the next hour prayed and watched out the window as the storm raged. When it was all over we went out to do evening chores and to survey all the damage.

We thanked the Lord, that we, along with all of our animals were all safe. Our sheds sustained a fair bit of damage and our electrical system was almost knocked out. We had lots of big trees down; one even went down across our township road totally blocking it. It was dark that night by the time we, along with our neighbors, got the road opened back up. I must say that there were other people who had a lot more storm damage than what we had. Our hearts and prayers go out to them.

We spent most of our summer fixing up our buildings, upgrading our electrical system, and cutting up trees. We have a lot more trees in our woods that will need cutting up. It’ll take at least a couple years to do all of them, but they will make good firewood to heat our home with.

With the cold, wet, late spring, our corn crop really struggled. We wondered if it would make it to maturity, so once again we turned to the Lord in prayer asking His blessing on it. It is so wonderful walking under an open heaven with our Lord, so that we can take all our cares to Him. He answered, and sent us some nice warm, sunny weather late in the season that really brought our corn crop along. We were amazed at how much corn silage we harvested per acre and at how well the corn yielded for grain.

So what can I say? It’s been a very challenging year, and yet a very blessed one. God is so good. He’s kept us all safe in His care this year, and our animals are doing well. I believe we have enough crops to see our animals through the winter ahead. We’ve gotten our buildings all fixed up, and God has provided all that we have need of. And in the middle of all that, what did we do? Our neighbor, Harley, took us fishing, and we caught a bunch of big, beautiful bluegills. That was a lot of fun – thanks, Harley.

There’s a song that says, Count your blessings, name them one by one, and you’ll be amazed at what God has done. The longer I live, the more I find this to be true. Every year on Thanksgiving Day we sit down at our table, with so much good food on it that Joanne has lovingly prepared, we go round and round giving thanks to the Lord for so many blessings that He has bestowed upon us. It would be good if everybody did that. It’s easy to look at the negative, but we here in America have so much to be thankful for. If you will be thankful for all that God has given you, it will change you and your outlook for the better.

A Very Challenging Spring

12 Oct

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

A Very Challenging Spring

                In farming, as well as in life, things sometimes go totally different than what a person expects or plans. This last winter proved to be a very hard one with all the ice, snow and bitter cold. Spring finally came and with it the realization that most of our hayfields had terrible winter kill. It’s the worst winter kill that I’ve seen in my entire life. And it’s not just my hayfields; it’s true of hayfields all across the Midwest.

Since our cattle eat a lot of hay, we decided to seed down a lot of new hay. That was a challenge though, since it started to rain and rain and then rain some more. In between all the rain we did manage to get a few days in which we were able to get the hay in. I did have to stay out of the lower corner of one of my fields though, since the ducks and geese were swimming around in it! Sometimes you have to plant what you can and leave the rest lie. I’m sure it will be a couple months at least before those acres dry out. We put in some long days to get it in, but I’m sure glad that we did, because right after we had it planted, it started to rain a lot again.

In between all the rain showers, we did manage to get our corn planted too. In the process of working that land, I did manage to plant my big tractor twice, and real good at that. And right after we got the corn planted, it rained a lot more again.

I must say that it’s been a very challenging spring, but God’s grace and provisions are sufficient. We are so thankful to the Lord that we were able to get our crops planted. Our hearts and prayers go out to the many farmers that haven’t been able to get their crops planted this spring and have had to leave many acres unplanted. As a farmer, I know it is very difficult to look at an empty field all summer long knowing there should be a beautiful crop there and there isn’t. No matter how bleak things look, God is always so good and faithful. When things look dark, that’s when we really need to look to Him and trust Him.

With our crops planted, we look to the Lord to bless the seed we sowed, that it will bring forth an abundant harvest. We desperately need it so that we can feed our cattle for another year, and so that we have food to eat too. We pray to the Lord to provide for us our daily bread every day, and rightly so. Sadly, many people in our country today don’t even realize where their food comes from, or whom they should be thanking for it. It would be so wise for them to thank the farmers who work so hard to produce it, and to thank the Lord who blesses and gives the increase. For without God’s blessings, we would all starve.

An Overwhelming Success

10 Aug

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

An Overwhelming Success

                Springtime on the farm is always a wonderful season, as the earth comes alive again, and the old winter is finally behind us. It’s exciting getting out in the fields and working the land and putting the tiny seeds into the ground, anticipating a bountiful harvest later in the season. Sometimes we don’t always get the harvest we hope for, but once in awhile we get far more than our wildest dreams.

Such is what happened many years ago on my parents’ dairy farm. Their farm had a lot of very steep, hilly land on it that we had to keep in hay almost constantly. It also had some nice rolling land and some flat land. Since we didn’t have much level land, that always got planted to corn.

We had one, twelve acre field that was flat except for one small sandy knoll in it. The rest of it was a sandy loam soil that grew beautiful crops of corn always. Well, the 1980’s came along and one year the government came out with the PIK program that paid farmers to leave half of their corn ground lie idle in order to raise the price of corn. My dad signed up for the program along with most other farmers.

One of the requirements of the program was that you had to put a cover crop on the land and clip it once or twice during the growing season. My brother and I suggested to my dad that we put that twelve acre field in the program since we had never had it out of corn for all the years we had owned it. My dad thought it was a good idea, so we did it.

For a cover crop, most farmers seeded the land down with a small amount of oats; it was cheap and met the program’s requirement. But, we got talking, and said, “Why not put a little alfalfa seed in with it and then that will put nitrogen in the soil, which will be beneficial since we plan on putting it back into corn the following year.” Pa didn’t really want to stick extra money in it, so we told him to go into town and buy one, fifty pound bag of the cheapest alfalfa seed he could get. And so he did.

Well, it came time to seed the field down, and so we set the grain drill down to just four pounds per acre. We got the whole field seeded down with one bag of the cheapest alfalfa seed we could get. If I remember right, I think it was Vernal. And then we clipped it during the summer.

The next year came and we hooked the plow up to the tractor to plow it under. We got out there and we couldn’t do it. That field had the most beautiful stand of alfalfa on it. We didn’t have another field on the whole farm that matched it. We ended up putting some other ground into corn instead.

We ended up leaving that field in hay for a number of years after that and took tremendous crops of hay off of it. What an overwhelming success, we could hardly believe it!

Over the years, I have bought a fair bit of alfalfa seed; normally the seed salesman will recommend seeding it at fifteen to twenty-five pounds per acre. When I tell them about my dad’s field years ago they always respond, “Well, if you had a real good seedbed, you could do it.”

Well, I always try to have a real good seedbed, and I always go for ten to twelve pounds per acre to be on the safe side. And I’ve always had excellent stands of hay. I was blessed to read an article by Dan Undersander of U W Madison in 2017 telling that 10 pounds of live seed per acre was plenty adequate with good seedbed preparation.

It’s nice in farming and in life when something turns out far better than we would ever dream possible. Like my dad’s hayfield. But, I know one thing that has far exceeded that in my own life, that’s in following my Lord and Saviour all these years. It’s far above and beyond what I could have ever expected. That doesn’t mean that life is always easy, or a bed of roses, but walking with Jesus everyday through it all, is the greatest life possible. I wouldn’t trade it for all the riches and pleasures in the world.