One reason I find rural life so wonderful is how farm families support each other. You hear about it everyday in my community. It is not a passing trend or a story of past generations. It is here and now, alive and thriving in West Virginia.
Currently a family friend is in the hospital and sadly not recovering from surgery the way we all hoped. Ed is a fighter,strong and stubborn, so as I write this I am sure that he is fighting to recover totally from this long process.Yet, his wife travels back and forth from Ruby Memorial hospital in Morgantown to their home in Weston daily. The drive is around a 2 hour round trip and is long and expensive to do every day. She is also now the sole worker on their small farm. But, they have a hidden support system, those in the back ground who keep the farm running.
Today, Ed and Dottie’s farm animals need fed and watered, horses need put out to pasture, grass needs mowing. The farm has over a dozen animals that need daily care and someone has to do it while Ed is unable to. This is a night mare that every animal owner fears…If some thing happens to me ,who will care for my horse, dog, cattle or goats? Most of us have at least have some family that can help out, but what happens when they can’t or don’t really understand the care of large animals like horses? This is when what I call “Farm Family” comes in.
“Farm Family” are the neighbors, the trail ridding friends, the Vet. techs, the Farrier and the boys from the next farm that step in. They all have been their, they understand that a farm is not just a pasture full of cows grazing in a field. At times it is an over whelming burden, because the animals need tended, huge gardens need worked, hay need mowing, tractors need fixed, fence needs mended, and at times children who need supervision.
As a member of this “Farm Family” group I have both the given and received from this unsaid promise. The promise that” I was not alone, no matter what!” Their was always someone who answered the phone at 1 am and would listen to my story of a sick or dying animal. That other “Farm Family” member was their to give advice, share medication, tools or just give me a shoulder to cry on, when I could not call my mother. It is an understanding that I have never found anywhere else.
So when I found out that my friend was sick and the extreme nature of the situation Tom and I asked if their was anything that we could do? What did hey need? The answer was not money, food or laundry it was a simple request… “Could you all come and put a round bail out for the horses? The breaks are bad on the tractor and I don’t use it. The boy next door is feeding the dogs,ducks and horses every morning, but he is not able to get hay out into the pasture”..Our responce was a united “Oh course”. This gesture may mean nothing to someone on the outside of farming. But, for anyone who has had 6 head of horses and no way to get hay to them, they will understand that we just gave Dottie a huge gift.
Tom and Ed have been friends for almost 8 years now and Tom has been Ed’s Farrier for about as long. We have helped them get horses and trailers, we have followed their grandchildren through school and shared a nip of moonshine with on the front porch. We are more to them then some hired contractor who shows up to work and the horses and they are more than a costumer base to us… they are ‘Farm Family’.
I am richer, because “when the Cow Pie hits the fan” I know that I can count on having another “Farm Family” member there to help clean up the mess. Here in my town we still care about our neighbors. We try hard to share what we have, and do what we can to relive the suffering of people and animals all around us.We all realise that one day it will be our turn having trouble getting things done on the farm. But, we will be able count on others to help us get through the hard times. No money is ever exchanged, nothing but a heart-felt “thank you” is ever given. There is no price on kindness, friendship, or understanding. You reap what you sow …. and “Farm Families” know that if you sow the very best of yourself then when it is your darkest hour, you will reap more kindness then you can ever image.
With this post I add my best wishes to Ed Waltz’s recovery and support to Dottie Waltz… We are here for you any time and we will see you when you are feeling better, Gods speed.
Yours always, Jolynn