Remember when… lessons learnt

Remember when… (1) we went out to help do chores, even when we didn’t want to. Lesson learnt: Doing something out of obligation may still result in an enjoyment of the time.

Remember when… (2) Dad dropped us off at rock or windbreak, when we were riding double on his horse. Some of us fell asleep until picked up, others learnt how to play alone. Lesson learnt: Being alone is peaceful.

Remember when… (3) Learning to drive by steering the truck while Dad was shoveling pellets off the back. Came to a small hill and thought the truck would stall, so climbed down to give it some gas. Dad fell off the back, but the truck kept going. Lesson learnt: Accelerators are touchy.

Remember when… (4) Got the feed truck stuck moving cows in the snow. I waited for Dad, because I didn’t think we could shovel it out, a tractor would be easier. When Dad got there, we shoveled it out. Lesson learnt: While the task may appear overwhelming, just get started.

Remember when… (5) We all learnt how to ride a bike, by being pushed (way too fast in a child’s memories) going down the small hill in front of the house. Lesson learnt: Sometimes you have to be pushed out of your comfort zone to continue learning.

Remember when… (6) Dad made me go out and run the tractor feeding bales to the tub grinder. I would have preferred to be almost anywhere else. I hated the tractor. It was my brother’s job. But I went anyway, and by noon it wasn’t so bad. Lesson learnt: Getting started is the hardest part.

Remember when… (7) Sometimes you have to do what you don’t like (saddling up) to do what you do like (riding) and sometimes you do the saddling up so someone else can do the riding.

Remember when… (8) working cattle in the corrals, he continually reminded us to pay attention to our surroundings; noting how animals and people will react differently to the same situation. Lesson learnt: Watch for cues (e.g. ears, head, flight zone), reading them will make your job easier.

Remember when… (9) Dad called us all over when moving cows to see a duck nest. Even after a herd of cows and calves had just passed, it lay undisturbed on the high prairie, far away from any water. We were careful not to touch, we wanted the mother to come back to look after those eggs. Lesson learnt: cattle pastures provide a safe haven for a wide variety of species.

Remember when… (10) He pointed out different species of grass or native flowers in the field. The environment maybe dry and on the surface appear barren, but when we looked closer we saw the diversity. How different plants grew in different place – some rocky, some wet, some only visible in short seasons. Lesson learnt: To see the beauty all around us.

Remember when… (11) He stopped the truck and pointed out the rock, nail or antler that was on the road. He patiently explained the potential hassle it could cause by creating a flat tire, injury or mechanical failure. We always stopped and moved them. Lesson learnt: See, really see what was around us and take action.

Remember when… (12) Dad doubled the time he thought it would take to do a job, just so he could take us along. Lesson learnt:  The right company can make the extra time worthwhile. Being patient enough to bring along the next generation and share our love for the land.

Remember when… (13) He yelled because we were on the wrong side of the plug as cattle went up the chute. It wasn’t safe for us.  Lesson learnt: Yelling is a form of communication, a way to get important information exchanged. Also, there are dangers on the farm that must be taken seriously by everyone. Ensuring that everyone knows how to stay safe was the most important thing in that moment.

Remember when… (14) The neighbours new daughter-in-law from the city was unloading grain, leaning over looking to ensure smooth operations. When she saw Dad barreling and yelling across the yard toward her. Not sure what is up she moves to talk to him as he obviously needed her to hear. As he approached the first think he did was shut the operation down (quiet and safe).  He explained what a risky location she was in. She never forgot the lesson and recognized he had ‘dropped’ what ever he was doing to ensure her safety. Lesson learnt: Safety is first and only. He explained the why and how so the lesson would be remembered and could be passed onto others.

Remember when… (15) We hated the electric fence so much we didn’t want to work with it and he provided gloves, boots and all the tools to make it possible. Lesson learnt: Some people can touch electric fences, others cannot, respect other peoples abilities and recognize we all have strengths and weaknesses. But the right tools can make it the seemingly impossible, possible.

Dad took advantage of every teaching opportunity that came along on the farm. Thank-you Dad even if we grouched about it at the time. Happy Father’s Day!

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