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The to-do list blues
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Dust on the Dashboard

The to-do list blues

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

I do not know about you, but I have sensed a lot of turmoil in our world lately. It seems like everything is doom and gloom, and no matter which side you are on the other is driving our nation and our world into the ground. There just seems to be a whole lot of negativities going around and it is really hard to find the joy in anything.

That was the way I was feeling yesterday, I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. On top of that I had an extensive list of things on my to-do list that need to be done soon.

It does not help that the cows are still in the lot, and I am feeding them hay every day. I had planned on them being out on the crop residue, sudan grass and rye but I need a hard freeze for that to happen. In short, I had the blues.

Yesterday was one of those picture-perfect fall days. It was about 70, no wind and lots of sunshine. With rain and colder temperatures in the forecast I decided to focus on building some electric fence around the rye.

It was a hard decision which task to start because I have several that need to be done, but fencing seemed like the most logical. Too many things to do, too little time to do them.

To top it off, I was by myself. Electric fence building is one of those tasks that work a whole lot better with two people. By yourself it means a whole lot of back tracking and walking back to the side-by-side.

I know that is a first-world problem because the side-by-side makes the fence building a whole lot more efficient on its own. Even then there is a lot of time spent deadheading it back and if there is one thing this fat, old guy does not like it is unnecessary walking. I may need that unnecessary walking but that does not mean I have to like it.

So, there I was – alone, feeling sorry for myself and wondering what this world is coming to.

The field I was on is a place where you can see no houses and there is not a lot of traffic on the road, especially during the middle of a weekday. It is about as isolated and peaceful as any ground we have. It is also about the highest point on any of our properties and the view is incredibly good.

I had been rolling up some cross fence so I could move it to where it needed to be. The side-by-side was parked at the highest point of the hill. I had just finished rolling up the wire and had pulled up the posts and decided I needed a break.

I sat there for a second and looked out over the landscape. The field in front of me was green with new rye, the pasture just beyond was the orangish brown that native grass gets this time of the year and the trees surrounding it were the best fall colors I had seen in years. To top it off the sky was a deep blue with cotton candy clouds floating along.

No artist could have painted it and done the view justice.

Nothing could have done more for my mental state than that moment did. The gentle fall breeze had the smell of clean prairie and new rye, and the world was quiet for that moment.

I have to admit that I sat there for several minutes drinking it in and much of the stress started to melt away. Short of a burning bush that told me in plain language, I could not have received a clearer sign that everything was going to be OK.

I wondered how many times over the ages someone had sat in that same spot with the weight of the world on their shoulders and had gotten that same message from God. We think we are in control of our lives and the world around us, but we are not.

At that moment I realized that was a particularly good thing and something to be thankful for. The God that made that landscape is the one who controls the future and all I need to get through is a little faith. All I needed was faith the size of the turnip seed I planted a few weeks earlier that looked like a speck of pepper or the rye seed and now is a growing, green plant.

As far as the future, I do not know if it is good or bad, and there is not much I can do about it. However, I do know the answer and it was clear as the sky on the horizon.

I am sure that I will forget that lesson very soon and need to be reminded of it over and over, but for that fleeting moment all was right in my world.

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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