I turned the corner and pushed my full shopping cart down the baking aisle, each of my three kids reaching their chubby little hands toward the shelves for some random thing they wanted to add to the cart. I quickly raced past the chocolate chips, and I went on toward the flour and sugar, the last two things that I had on my chicken-scratched shopping list.
It was the week before Thanksgiving, which also meant that it was one of the busiest times to be at the grocery store, and the baking isle was crawling with other moms just like me: carts full of food and full of little bodies, each mama holding her own chicken-scratched shopping list to make her family’s favorite homemade dish.
As we stood in the aisles scrunched together and reaching for what we needed, I overheard the woman next to me calling out to her kids of what was left on her list. “OK, Ashely can you grab some cornstarch, we need that for the gravy. I’ll grab the cornmeal for the stuffing. Garrett, you get the flour and then I’ll get the corn syrup for the cornflake clusters that Grandma likes so much. Alright, that’s it, kids. Let’s go.” They each grabbed their supplies and tossed them in the cart, and in a moment, they had turned the aisle and were off to check out.
I stood there for a moment and took it all in. And I thought to myself, what a privilege it is that we get to be a small part of their Thanksgiving meal.
Because we’re a farm family. And what we grow is in just about everything that’s going to be on their dining room table this holiday season. And it’s probably going to be on yours, too.
Here on our 1500-acre farm in Southeast Nebraska, we grow corn and soybeans. And we work hard year-round to bring the very best from our farm to your table. So, when I see the mama in the grocery store aisle putting something with our grain in it, I can’t help but feel pride in what we do and the process that goes in to getting that product to you.
It may be winter now, but back in the early spring, my husband was out in the field cultivating the soil, making sure that it was tilled perfectly so that the corn seed would have the best chance of growth. He carefully filled in water way ditches and leveled out his terraces, spending hour upon hour in his tractor.
And that corn that’s going into your favorite holiday dish wasn’t even in the ground yet.
Once the corn was planted, we kept our eyes up at the sky and our knees on the ground, praying that God would send rain for our crops. And like the faithful God he is, we always got just enough and right when we needed it. As a family, we walked the fields together this spring, my husband bending down to the ground to see his crops sprouting up through the soil. Little green buds popping up in rows, soon to be tall, strong corn stalks with deep roots. As we continued to pray, our crops continued to grow.
In the summer months, the Midwest heat was at its peak and the rain was scant, but this is when the corn grew the best. Day after day, my husband drove his truck out to the fields to water our crops; laying heavy pipe for gravity irrigation and running pivots through the night. And as he continued to water the crops, I continued to pray; that the rains would come and that the corn would stand tall. And for the farmer and his wife, there is no sound more beautiful than the sound of rain on our farmhouse roof. Many nights we eagerly ran to the window to watch God’s goodness fall from the sky. Goodness that would grow the corn that would end up on your table to feed your family.
But when the hot summer air turned into crisp and chilly winds and the leaves began to rustle along the dirt roads, that was when the real magic of the farm began; the season of harvest, when we brought in all of the crop that we had worked and prayed so hard for. From the first startup of my husband’s combine, it was a two-month race against the weather to get his crops in from the field and into the grain bins. For days on end, he drove in his combine, harvesting the hundreds of acres of corn that he had planted earlier in the year. He made trips into the grain elevators in his semi-truck to deliver and sell his grain, and from there it was distributed all over the country, into your food, and onto your tables.
It was a long and lonely season for all of us, but we made the most of the time that we had together, which was usually in the field. Me and the kids brought hot meals and coffee out to our favorite farmer; the food kept his stomach full, but the hugs and cuddles he got from us kept his heart fuller, until the months of harvest were done and we were finally all back together under the same farmhouse roof. But it was worth it, so that we could get our corn to your grocery store.
So, the next time you are wandering the aisles of your grocery store looking for the ingredients to go into your family’s favorite holiday foods, remember the man up on the tractor and how he grew your food by the sweat of his brow and the strength of his back. Remember our family in the field and the months we prayed for our crops, and your food. This family business, this bringing corn from our farm to your table, this is tradition and pride passed down from one generation to the next.
This is modern day farming.