What is normal?
No this isn't another article about life before COVID.
Farming can become just farming. Business just business. The weeks and months come and go, and no matter how different your life might be from whatever the average experience is, it seems very normal to you. Life is all about perception, if you are Jeff Bezos, being the richest man in the world might seem quite normal. Although I surmise no matter how successful getting on your 150 foot yacht could provide a bit of an adrenaline rush every time.
When you live in Eastern Nebraska, the beef industry is your normal. Selling my family's beef, (aside from a few introspective looks of HOW THE HECK DID I GET HERE) Is my normal. I wouldn't trade my life experience for the world, our experiences make us who we are and bring us together with those we should be together with. As a new parent I think of the infinitesimal odds of my son being my son, and all those moments in time in my life that lead to him, let alone the ancestral odds which become mind meltingly low. For all the light that the miracle of life can bring you, it can still seem dull or frustrating. Of course some failures or frustrations can lead to greater successes or fulfillment later in life, at least that is what us eternal optimists sell ourselves every morning.
So life is a complete and staggering miracle and "normal" all at the same time. This last week though, I have had the privilege of getting a glimpse of wonderment into our family operation and our life. The wonderment that you can only experience through seeing something for the first time in your life. Brittany and I picked up our British Au Pair who will look after Herbert for the next year or two. It was an odd feeling picking up this someone for the first time that is going to live with you. We had shared many facetimes and phone calls so mix up the feeling of picking up a long lost friend/stranger. Now imagine being her, going to live with a strange family in the middle of the US, she is more courageous than I.
Well We picked her up from airport, and set off to get some lunch and head home to get settled in.
Her first observation. "There is so much space between everything." I look around, and you know what she is right. There are a lot of corn and soybeans out there. (Sell some beans on Monday.)
Her second observation. "Does everyone have an automatic(referring to the transmission)? We joke that only rich people have automatics." Well well well, I was feeling a little down after 5 years of being beat by the cattle market, but I have many many automatics, maybe life isnt too shabby over here.
Her third observation. "American homes are so spacious." Alright I am blushing now, my very average 1976 Ranch house in Wisner Nebraska is impressive....Go on.
After a tour of the farm and getting her settled in to the house, oh and throwing her into two family gatherings in two days. (Sorry Gemma) We finally got to just have a small group over for some steaks.
Observation #239 (Just Guessing) "Wow, this is a really really good steak." Without me telling her that it was my own product even or goading her for a compliment. That's the Taste of Nebraska Tradition right there, sitting there enjoying the fruits of my own family's work. My own little family with the next generation and our British Au Pair.
All of the off handed observations and that one compliment on that steak meant the world to me, because trying to impress customers with a great steak or running out to our farm had become my Normal. Normal can be frustrating. Try looking at your own life and accomplishments through someone who has never met you or even been in your part of the world for that matter. Like I mentioned, life is all about perspective, your life might be more interesting than you think.
All of us in Agriculture are blessed to call these expansive Agricultural areas of our country home. Our normal may not be everyone's ideal life, but it is a life that is experienced by fewer people than have not. After the last week, more than ever I consider providing The Taste of Nebraska Tradition to be my privilege.