It’s that time of year – the time when giant tire tracks are visible on the road (thanks, mud season) and you’re very likely to meet your local farmer as they are traveling from field to field. I’m human, and just like you, I know it’s not easy to be stuck behind a piece of farm equipment at what feels like it’s moving at a glacial pace.
When this happens, a few thoughts probably cross your mind:
“I’m going to be so late!” or “How long until they turn?” or “Can I pass on a double yellow if they are going this slow?” or “Why do they have to be on the road right now? It’s rush hour! Can’t they just work after everyone gets to work.” or “@#%#^#@$%@#$”
I hear you. I’ve thought some of these same things….but hear me out. When spring planting hits and you find yourself traveling 25 MPH behind a tractor or sprayer or whatever piece of large equipment, remember:
- This is their job. Like you, they are just trying to get to work – hustlin’ that daily grind. It just so happens their corner office is the cab of a tractor and their destination is a field that rolls on for acres and acres. No one tells you when you can or can’t travel to work. Show these farmers…the ones who’s end product fills the shelves in the grocery store and feeds your family…some grace when it comes to their commute. It’s not like they loooove being in bumper to bumper traffic with a bunch of people flicking them off. Or impatient travelers dangerously speeding around them on a double yellow only barely missing causing an accident. Yeah – that doesn’t sound fun to me either.
- When it’s go time, it’s go time! Farmers are at the mercy of so many things. Honestly, the list of what we can control is waaaaay shorter than what we can’t. For example, the weather is a huge gamble. If Mother Nature decides rain (or God forbid a late-April snow shower) is in the forecast, you better believe farmers are going to be hustling – sometimes at all hours of the day and night – to get the seed in the ground or the hay baled or the manure spread. It’s not a 9 to 5 job. And the commute times reflect that demand.
- They’ve got families. Like you, they have families. They are brothers, sons, mothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. And they want to get home to their crew of people and their trusty farm dog. A minor inconvenience of 5 miles behind slow-moving equipment and tacking on 5 minutes to your commute is a better option than 6 feet under and destroying your family and theirs. In case you haven’t noticed, you’ll never win when going up against a large piece of equipment – so why risk it? Patience is a virtue we should all be taking a daily dose of like vitamins.
- Life’s crazy. Here’s your chance to slow down. Anyone else feel like life moves at warp speed and you’re craving some slow down time? Whelp – here’s your chance. When you approach a tractor on the road, take a deeeeep breath. Crank the radio. Put the windows down and take a few minutes to appreciate the beauty of the countryside around you. And when you do get the chance to pass safely (and not on double yellows – that’s illegal, my friend), wave to the farmer on the tractor…and not with your middle finger. Jesus and Santa are watching.
Here’s to a safe planting season for all of our farm families. And for our friends that don’t farm, please remember this post when you roll up on a tractor traveling through your neighborhood.