What he never said…
As Father’s Day 2015 approaches, I find myself trying to determine WHO exactly influenced me the most – my Dad or my Grandpa Bud. Of course they both, along with the rest of my family, influenced me, but the kind of influence I am divulging into is in reference to my passion as an adult. I am a farmer’s daughter, a farmer’s granddaughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, a cattle producer, a teacher and many others. These are the most important to me, but as I write this I cannot help but think about the first two A LOT! Keyword: Farmer
I was born into a family deeply rooted into agriculture. Specifically grain farming, harness racing and raising cattle. Be jealous! I was never told I had to like it. I was never told I had to have fun doing “ag” things. I was never told I had to join 4-H and show livestock. I was never told I had to take agriculture classes in high school. I was never told I had to join FFA. I was never told I had to go to college. I was never told I had to major in agriculture. I was never told that I had to own my own herd of cattle. Some of these things I did and some I did not.
As the first grandchild I attended more Illinois county fairs by the age of 2 than some people do in a lifetime. Again, be jealous! During the summer months, my entire family (literally, the entire family) traveled across the state to county fairs on the Mid-Western Illinois Racing Association circuit to race Standardbred horses. Thanks to our little Thompson Stables crew, I learned very early on the value of a quick bath in a bucket in the horse stall, how to “pop a squat” and to never turn down a big chug of ice cold well water out of the jug! I was too young to specifically recall, but I’ve been told my first word was not “Dada” or “Mama”, but “horse”. Rightfully so! As I got older, my love for agriculture continued. 4-H was a MAJOR part of my childhood and upbringing. North Side Ag 4-H Club for life!! I showed pigs and cattle. I was always told I had to work hard for the things I wanted. If I wanted to win, I had to walk my pigs and take good care of them. If I wanted to go somewhere with my friends on a Saturday night, I had to get up early and help clean the barn. If I wanted to play softball – a spring sport in high school, I had to give up showing cattle. In the words of my Dad, “you can’t devote enough time to taking care of your show calves if you play softball.” Needless to say, I chose showing cattle. Big surprise!
I am a proud graduate of Western Illinois University Department of Agriculture. The picture below was taken on the day I graduated from Western. My Dad is very outspoken when it comes to his opinions, but very quiet when it comes to his emotions. This may describe your Dad to a T! I have several friends who could say that is a true statement about their Dad as well. Must be a Dad thing! He never told me how proud he was of me that day, but I knew. I knew that he was very happy for me and proud to tell people that I was going to be an agriculture education teacher & FFA advisor. I was happy to make him proud and still am to this day.
I love to sit and talk to my grandparents! My Grandpa Bud has some of the best stories. Some may be true, some may be a little spiced up for conversation! That is what Grandpas are good for – stories! He is my biggest role model. I have always been very proud to call him Grandpa. Growing up I LOVED following him around and helping harness the horses. In the early 1990’s we moved our horses to the Illinois State Fairgrounds and began to train there. I didn’t watch cartoons on Saturday mornings, I left home at 5:00 in the morning to go to Springfield with my grandparents! Those Saturdays were the best times of my life. From scooping manure and cleaning stalls to cleaning harness, I was their right hand gal. I longed for the day, my Grandpa would let me lead a horse around in the grass behind the barn after a good training mile. As I got older, our direct involvement in harness racing got less and less. My Grandpa was offered a job at the Illinois Department of Agriculture and therefore was unable to own, train or drive any racehorses. I was just old enough to start doing really fun things at the barn like lead the horses around all the time…without help and give them a bath and walk them out to the track before their morning jogging workout! Like I said, really really fun things! Needless to say, I was disappointed. I was also happy for him. He was a BIG deal in my eyes and I was proud of him and his accomplishments! In the years that followed, my family still had an active role in harness racing. I find myself saying to people, “agriculture is in my blood”. Harness racing was no different. As many times as I find myself telling people that agriculture is in my blood, I also get emotional. Weird? Yes, it is! Haha. My passion for agriculture is because of my parents and grandparents, specifically my Dad and Grandpa – the farmers!
This may be just like all the other “farmer Dad” stories you have read that seem to surface around Father’s Day every year. I think mine is different. I was highly influenced to become the person I am today. Few words were spoken and I was never told I had to do this or had to do that….in terms of my life goals. Let’s be honest, I was told to make my bed, wash the dishes, clean my room, etc., etc. plenty of times growing up!
In addition to my Dad and Grandpa, I must also mention my husband and my father-in-law as well as the handful of male influences in my life that served as “pseudo Dads”! I love them all dearly and appreciate them more than they will ever know.
I love watching my Dad and Grandpa around my two children! I feel very fortunate that my Grandpa has the opportunity to be an active part of their lives. He feels the same. My Dad can entertain my kids for hours and you will never hear “Papa” sound so sweet as it does coming out of my two year old son’s mouth!