2015-09-16

Neighbors

After harvesting oats, bailing up the straw, loading and selling it, it was time to wrap up early harvest season.  Once again this year I planted tillage radishes over the straw stubble for mid-to-late season weed suppression as well as to allow for natural tillage.  My neighbor (about 8 miles away) Ricky stores my grain drill for me in exchange for the use of it to plant small grains both fall and spring. When we need it on our farm, Ricky just hooks it up to his MX135 and says 'use my tractor, just fill it up with fuel when you are done'.

This is how things get done in farm country.  Not everyone is running around using everyone else's equipment of course.  You have to be known, and it helps if your family has been known for a few generations like mine has in the Lancaster area.  Communities like mine have a lot of history.  I have looked at platte maps from the late 1800's and found the same last names as are there now.  There are some instances of bad blood that crop up along the way, but they come and go as generations fade in and out.  That aside, there is an economy to this system of helping out.  We take care of each other.  That does not mean being all up in everyone's business, though there is some of that in these small communities to be sure.  What it does mean is that when a neighbor get hurt or is ill, we stop by to check up, maybe help feed the cattle or haul a piece of equipment to be repaired.  Or just visit for a spell, letting them know that they are still a part of us.

I can't tell you how many times this has played out my way over the last eight years or so.  This is not generosity. It is caring.  There is a lot of difference between those two.  Those who are generous have it to give without feeling much impact.  The motivation, while not less admirable, is one of philanthropy more so than caring.  It is an emotionally distant response which lacks connection in some respects.

Those that care help or give because they have a vested interest in your survival and success.  They may be competitors or even rivals to a certain extent, but they know that their community is a better place because their neighbor is there with them.  This is a form of Americana that is in tiny pockets now days.  It is hard to maintain in our Walmart world, where kids would rather play electronic games than go out and blow off a few rounds with a .22 or a .20 Gauge.  Where parents are likely to be working the farm when they can after finishing a ten hour day at the 'regular' job.  There just isn't the time to be neighborly like we used to in general.

But in some places, like my community, I have lots of neighbors.  We help each other, we do business with each other, we sit and talk for a spell.....