When I was 19 my father, along with my two uncles offered me the opportunity to join in the family business with them. For 50 years the three of them had been dairy farmers and they were ready to make the jump to dry farming by purchasing a farm in southern Idaho and moving there from the Salt Lake valley to run it.
I was told at the time that when they retired the new farm would be mine.
I said no. I had watched my father go to work every morning, 365 days a year at 4 a.m., rain or shine, sick or not, regardless of the situation at home. Then I would witness him coming home at 7 p.m. in the evening, eating and falling asleep on the sofa in our front room. Other than coming in the house for a half an hour at noon to have lunch, he had been gone all day.
Sunday was the only day he took any time off. He still, of course had to milk the cows twice a day, but after the morning milking he usually washed the car, mowed the lawn, weeded his garden (as if he hadn't had enough agriculture all week), etc. Often when I was a kid we went on a Sunday afternoon drive; but we had to be back by 3 p.m. so he could get things ready to milk the 100 head of cows we had on our place.
While all my friends went to Yellowstone and Disneyland during the summer for vacation, we never went on one, because milk cows don't take time off.
By the age of 19 I was very tired of it. Not discerning the differences between dry farming and dairy farming I said no. I said no to long hours, low pay and to be honest, very dirty, grimy work much of the time.
Now sometimes I regret that decision. I love what I do, but that agricultural way of life did have it's very good side; I was just too young, and too caught up in myself to see the bigger picture.
Over the years I found that life is full of low pay, long hours and dirty, grimy jobs. I have had a lot of them, and through none of them have I gained the satisfaction that my father seemed to get from operating that small dairy farm.
As a smart ass baby boomer, I was sure I knew a better path. But they say that most of us become our parents when we get older and I think it is true, at least in some respects. My father was a very wise man, but it took me until I was much older to figure it out.
Sometimes my kids shake their heads at me and my ideas just like I did my dad. I deserve it. I'm sure my advice and concepts often seem foreign to them.
Certainty about things doesn't improve with age, but it seems the chances of being right more often sure gets better with increased experience.
I just hope my counsel to my kids is as good as my dads was to me, regardless if it falls on deaf ears or not.