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The Last Windrow: Not one for making resolutions

This is the issue of the newspaper that usually addresses the pluses and minuses of the past year. Papers also feature people making resolutions for the new year, 2014.

We never paid much attention to the turning of the calendar page to the new year on that little Iowa farmstead where I grew up. Jan. 1 was just like any other day — you got up early, milked the cows, did the chores and went about your everyday business. There wasn’t much time left to sit and contemplate your navel.

Looking back over your shoulder really did little good on the farm. What was done was done. Bets that were made in the spring may or may not have turned out. That new variety of high priced, single cross seed corn might have produced a paltry 20 bushel to the acre. Your high expectations for that great looking litter of little pigs may have gone down the tube when hog prices headed for the basement in October. That prize steer that you were thinking about butchering in the fall may have developed a case of hardware disease and had to be shipped “subject” to the stockyards in July.

It did little good to sit and cry over spilled milk. It was on to the next adventure.

I don’t ever remember making any resolutions, either. Overall, we must have considered ourselves to have been living about as good as one could expect. Very few farmers ever resolved to lose weight. With the labor required on the farm, there weren’t very many farmers who were overweight.

I doubt if there were ever many memberships bought to a gym or health club. When you finished a day of maintaining a farm, every muscle in your body had been tested to the nth degree. You were not looking to go spend some more time exercising. You were looking for a soft spot to land.

My dad resolved to stop smoking about half of the years I spent alongside him. He gave it a noble effort. First he would suck on hard candy. Then he would graduate to chewing on a cinnamon stick or chewing gum. Then he would elevate himself to chewing long-leaf tobacco, and finally he would fall back into the cigarette trough and be puffing on cigarettes just like before he made the resolution.

It was a tough habit to break, but he finally did it when he hit 80.

So, it is no wonder that I find no real satisfaction in making resolutions or re-living the high and low points of the past year. It seems pointless for me to resolve to do something when I know I’ll wither under fire. The new year is before us and who knows what it will bring. Some good, some bad and mostly the same-old, same-old.

The main thing as I see it is to persevere and try to keep an optimistic viewpoint.

Garden seed catalogs are arriving in droves in our mailbox as we approach 2014. If I WERE to make a resolution, it would be to try to pick seeds that actually come out of the ground in May. That would seem to me to be about as promising resolution as could be had by any human. I’ll settle for that.

Happy New Year!

See you next time. Okay?