Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A New Decade

The last month of the year finds me scrambling to finish projects, finalize farm bookkeeping, and find the perfect Christmas gift for everyone on my list. It’s a frenzied time of baking, cleaning, and making sure the girls don’t spill anything on their Christmas dresses. I must carefully wrap each gift so I can later pick up the shreds of paper strewn across the living room floor. I painstakingly decorate the tree that usually falls down at least once before Christmas, leaving a pile of broken ornaments and needles below.

I’m ushering kids to Christmas plays and pageants, taking pictures and mouthing their lines to them from the audience. I’m baking treats to deliver to school parties, exercising patience as the kids decorate sugar cookies, making crafts and singing carols.

The Christmas card photo has been taken and the letter has been sent.

Somewhere in the midst of the holiday season, another year slips away.

This year is especially difficult to bid farewell. Not only are we entering a new year, but we are welcoming a new decade.

I rather liked the old decade. The old decade saw three new babies born. It witnessed the first days of school, the first loose teeth, the first successful hunting trip, and a multitude of hugs from little people in footed pajamas.

This new decade will bring strange new adventures. In the next decade, I will be parenting teenagers. I’ll become the mother of an adult. There will be cars and dates and acne and goodbyes.

The next decade will bring 40. It will mark 20 years of marriage. This will be the decade in which I can embarrass my children simply by showing up at their school and acknowledging that I know them.

As many transitions as the next decade holds for my family, it also holds changes for agriculture.

In the past decade, we saw mounting challenges to our industry. Increased activism in the areas of animal rights and environmentalism, combined with media bias and social networks, have done great harm to the image of agriculture as well as setting up legal battles. Decision making is becoming more and more difficult due to changes in farm policy and market influences that stretch far beyond the fundamentals of supply and demand.

As producers, our response to these challenges will be the difference between success and failure. Even as we tackle the issues of raising teenagers in the next decade, our most difficult struggles may involve finding a way to continue farming in a world that will demand more and better quality food that will be grown on a shrinking number of expensive acres.

While I’m curious to see what will happen, I’m glad I don’t have a crystal ball. I have a feeling that we don’t want to see all the challenges that agriculture will face in the next 10 years. But I also have faith that if anyone can meet those challenges, it’s our friends and neighbors who, from one coast to the other, work every day to make a living and provide safe and wholesome food.

If only I had that much confidence in my own ability to raise teenagers. . .


QuiltedSimple said...

My oldest just turned 10 last week - I don't want to think of what will happen in 3 short years........ugh.

dhicklen said...

I just lived your next decade in this decade. I survived the first teenager, the first driver's license, the first boyfriend, the first college student, the big 4-0 birthday, the first 20 years of marriage and 10 more years of cotton farming. You will survive it too and what a ride it will be!

RockWallaby said...

I hadn't really stopped to look back at the last decade until reading your post. I, too welcomed 3 new additions and watched all four stumble through baby, toddler and little kid stages with such delight. What a remarkable decade. With the wonderful foundation you're giving your babies, they won't ever turn far from you as teenagers and young adults. I share your concern for the future of agriculture, as here in Australia, we've already had the right removed from us to clear trees. As guardians of our land it upsets me that we are held in such low esteem and thought to be the ones destroying the environment. Quite the opposite. I think as the world commences to starve in the next decade, agriculture will provide the only solutions.
Have thoroughly enjoyed sharing your family's adventures this year, and wish you a safe, happy and loving Christmas season.

Heather in ND said...

Oh how true this all is. I too in the next decade will-turn 40-will parent teenagers-be mother to an adult-celebrate 20 years of marriage! I just never realized it until you said it. And not surprisingly so since I have been so busy completing this decade.

Jenny said...

All of the above is also true for me (well, I only had two born in the last decade. My second born was in 1999).

I wish I could be as optimistic as you on the ag front. We are trying to sell out. Sell the farm, sell the machinery, sell the ranch. but no one is buying. No one is buying this year's hay crop either. So it's a bleak turn of the decade for us in agriculture. But at least we have our children, our health, food in the pantry and clothes on our backs, and hubbby has his good job at the fire department. And we will get thru this.

FinchInk said...

I too, will be parenting teenagers in the new decade; our oldest will also become an adult. Yikes! And I thought the Terrible Two's (and three's) were bad! Just so you know, though, turning 40 is bad - I did that this year . . . however, in the coming decade, I'll officially go from being a suburban wife & mother to being a farm wife!

Happy New Year - I really enjoy reading your blog!!

FinchInk said...

Sorry, Erin, that was supposed to say that 40 ISN'T bad. lol Too much coffee is affecting my typing!

Star said...

I'd like to read the web sites of some of your favorite agricultural organizations/syndicates. Would you please list a couple? Thanks!

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