The Hard Work Way

It’s one of the final rites of summer for us–Ag Progress Days in Central Pennsylvania. We borrow a van and sometimes take two vehicles to haul as many grandkids as we can from our small city to a celebration of the farm life that surrounds us and feeds us.

We had two sets of siblings with us yesterday, the other set grown or already booked with other activities. But the brothers and brother/sister group we had with us this time got along better together than they sometimes tend to do alone. Community builds goodwill.

We started with our usual. Hamburgers and hot dogs at a tent the Methodists sponsor and tend. Then we were off to the Corn Maze.

It’s not just a game, but a multiple-choice quiz about Pennsylvania agriculture. Pick the right answers and get through the maze quickly. Go the wrong way, and your siblings or cousins will beat you to the end.

They went through multiple times–a couple of them going forwards and backward.

Then, we walked past the tractors. Grandpa told them about his first tractor and showed them the very model. Two of the younger ones measured their heights by the tires. That was a moment for pictures.

On the way to Penn State’s Berkey Creamery (another tradition), we drove past a farm where I’d once taken some of the cousins to pick cherries. We had ice cream that day too.

But much is changing now. The apple orchard is overgrown, and a sign announces a coming housing development. Yet another one as the farm landscape shrinks further.

Birds are gathering sooner this year. Watching them wind their way over us as the flock shifts shape is one of my favorite features of fall.

Our traditions remain the same. Nature follows a pattern. But society changes to move further away from the land.

We live on a half-lot in our city. Farming to us is cutting the grass, occasionally growing tomatoes, and tending a row of black raspberry bushes.

The harvest is our nod to a way of life that taught hard work and diligence despite hardship. A way of life that brought society beyond subsistence to prosperity and freedom.

A way of life that still brings satisfaction in one’s own work.

We journey to you-pick farms and Ag Progress to impress upon those who come after us that the hard work way is good.

That planting a seed means harvesting a crop–after time, after storms, after work.

On such ideas, life grows abundant.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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18 Replies to “The Hard Work Way”

  1. You brought these verses to mind:
    “and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
    1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

    1. That’s exactly it, Beth. Farmers rely most on themselves and God. And it matters so much that people maintain that kind of independence. Thanks and God bless!

  2. Such fun, this tradition, but sorry to hear the landscape is changing. It’s so easy to take the hard work of others for granted, even when it impacts our lives. I pray I can recognize and appreciate this more.

    1. It is sad to lose this farm–right on the edge of a university town. The kind of thing that can remind people that life isn’t all cement and brick buildings. Thanks, Stephen. God bless!

  3. Nancy, what a wonderful tradition to share with your kids and grandkids! I agree, as we move away from the closeness and reliance on the land for our daily sustenance, I wonder if it takes us from other things like hard work and relying on God, the provider of the sun and rain for the crops. May your traditions go deep.

  4. A beautiful glimpse of a slower pace of life, one we all used to enjoy. I miss the farm. I miss the horizon. We must slow down! We need a wider view! That you’re seeing the birds already winging their way southward sends a chill through my heart as I contemplate the severity of last winter, hoping and praying this one won’t be so harsh. Thank you for such peaceful words in today’s rush.

    1. Thanks, Melinda. I enjoy a cool fall with wonderful foliage–which we did not get last year. And I love the occasional snow day. Hope there isn’t much ice. God bless!

  5. Beautiful, Nancy. We’ve gone to many a corn maze, but I love how the one you mention is answering questions to make right moves through the maze. You highlight so many things that our high tech and innovative society often misses out on: The pure enjoyment of family, nature, the land, and a good work ethic. And I love this line, “Community builds goodwill.”

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