The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


Farm Family Insights: by Natalie Dowell Schmitt

A Season of Love

Seasons mark the movement of time on the farm. As we put the hay head away and wiggle the corn head onto the chopper, it is a reminder of the new season.

If the corn is ready to chop, the grapes must be ready to pick. And somewhere in all the hustle and bustle of this harvest season, we try to find a few quiet moments to celebrate our 30th harvest season.

It feels like a few years ago Dad was walking me down the church aisle whispering, "You know, you're marrying those darn cows? You know, your marrying those darn cows."

With each step, I nodded my head and assured him I knew I was marrying those cows, too. This is a perfect example of the love is blind theory. I had no clue what I was getting into.

Even before I made it to the church, I was questioning if I really loved Mark enough to marry him forever.

I called a dear friend, whom I had met at her wedding two years earlier, to seek her advice.

My call woke her up after she just worked the night shift at the hospital.

Once her sleepy mind cleared, she found some very wise words.

"The love you feel for him today is nothing compared to what it will be like later as your marriage grows."

Love him? Not enough for 30 years, but I knew I loved him enough to walk down the aisle to say, "I do."

Think of love as an oak tree. It doesn't start out majestic and sturdy. It starts from a simple seed, an acorn.

As an oak tree grows, so does its root system. An oak tree's crown is a mirror image of its root system below ground.

It must have a strong foundation to keep it anchored and steady by which to grow.

Of course, as the young sapling grows, it must be flexible and willing to bend to survive the storms. Love starts off as a seed of promise.

Through shared experiences beside each other, the foundation or root system develops to support the branches of your family.

We picked a September wedding because the odds were in our favor if a long marriage was an inherited trait.

Mark's grandparents were married for 63 years in September. His parents will celebrate their 63rd later this month. My parents just celebrated their 57th earlier this month.

As my Dad tells his wedding story, it was the hottest day of the summer of 1960. There was no such thing as an air conditioned church. There are wedding pictures of him mopping the sweat from his brow, proof of the heat. But the concerned look on his face revealed more of a nervous sweat of, "What in the world am I getting into?"

Mark's dad was busy doing chores the morning of his wedding and told his uncle, the priest, that he thought he would make it to the church on time if nothing broke down.

The uncle was concerned if he would be performing a wedding ceremony or not.

When our folks got married, it was a different time in farming. The harvest season wouldn't start till October. There weren't any silos to fill with corn silage or fourth cutting of hay to bale. If it worked for our parents, it should work for us.

My brother complained the whole wedding weekend of having to delay filling the silo with corn silage for his beef steers.

Mark, Al and Ralph rushed to have all of our silos filled by the wedding.

We even had a very short honeymoon because we needed to be back to finish topping off the silos.

The silos ran all winter long that year.

Over the years, our anniversary celebrations have reflected where we are in life at the time.

The early years it was a weekend getaway. Then the kids changed our overnight trips to a dinner out on the town.

When the kids grew up and left, then it was pizza and cheap wine on the couch because we were too tired to head to town to celebrate.

We will probably be chopping corn silage on our anniversary this year and that's OK.

Because with every little glance and grin between loads, the roots grow deeper and anchor us together through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

Besides, every day is an anniversary celebration when you're with the one you love.

Have a safe and bountiful harvest season as we mark off another movement on the farm clock.


As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.