By Kim Baldwin @kimraybaldwin
A friend of mine recently asked when my family truly begins to enjoy summer. She asked this well-meaning question to help her figure out when we get to enjoy some rest and relaxation during the summer months. She has observed my family for many years and has recognized that while many others enjoy vacations during this time of the year, it seems as if my family does not get the “traditional” summer experience so many others do.
Before I met and eventually married my husband, I lived in a town where I taught school. As soon as I had wrapped up my lessons for the year, cleaned my classroom and submitted my final grades, my summer break began. My summer breaks consisted of a lot of cookouts with friends and family, a lot of time in a swimming pool, and a lot of travel. I had a lot of things to do during my breaks, and I generally kept a pretty busy schedule to ensure I’d soak up all of what summer offered. Many nights I’d usually fall asleep exhausted from a busy summer day and get a good, hard sleep before rising with the sun the next morning.
When I look at what summers were like for me as a single teacher living in a small town compared to what my summers look like now on the farm, I can’t help but recognize that some things remain the same yet appear different. During wheat harvest, I still experience meals with friends and family — although what is generally grilled at home is then packaged up and hauled out to hungry people in a wheat field somewhere. I still enjoy meals with others while sitting in our lawn chairs, albeit the scenery and timeframes may look a little different.
My time relaxing at the pool with friends has transitioned to water time with my kids. Pool time is now generally centered around our stock tank pool that sits in our front yard. It’s quite convenient for early morning or evening dips, and you don’t have to deal with crowds or admission fees. Sometimes the kids and I enjoy a trip to a local splash pad or enjoy time at our town’s public pool. In either of these scenarios, we all enjoy a little refreshing break from the summer heat.
Summer means wheat harvest time in Kansas! Did you know that wheat is the oldest and most widely produced and consumed cereal crop on earth? ���� https://t.co/XaxxUZBftL— Kim Ray Baldwin (@kimraybaldwin) July 16, 2021
I also still get to travel during the summer months. Some days include unplanned short trips to a business in a nearby town to pick up irrigation or machine parts my husband needs. Unless the items are needed immediately, I usually have the kids put on their swimsuits under their clothes and pack some towels in the event we find a new community splash pad to enjoy. If we strike out with the splash pad on our parts runs, we’ll look for community parks or interesting things like murals to explore in these other communities. Sometimes, the kids and I can also sneak away for multiple days if schedules allow.
As the summer continues and hectic, timely tasks on the farm like wheat harvest and planting have transitioned more into an autopilot mode of things like managing irrigation. We still take advantage of the daylight hours and generally still collapse into our beds nightly well after the lightening bugs fill the air.
As summer continues, my family can begin to stray a bit further from the farm. We can enjoy a swimming pool at a hotel or a relaxing evening cookout together at home. We, no doubt, will still collapse into bed at night after exhausting days trying to take full advantage of all that the summer days allow us to absorb. And we will begin talking about what fun family trip we can plan for and enjoy some rest and relaxation — somewhere perhaps warm and sunny — in either January or February.
Kim Baldwin is a farmer and Farm Bureau member in Kansas. She is a past president of her county Farm Bureau (McPherson) and current board member. This column was originally published as a Kansas Farm Bureau Insight column.