I have written before about my experience growing up on the farm. It was difficult work for a child, but loving parents disrupted their lives to give us children an opportunity that has come to bless me every day and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
I often say in recollection “As a teenager, I spent my young life trying to find a way off the farm, and after I grew to adulthood, I have spent my life trying to find my way back.” I want to pass on to my posterity the joys and opportunities I was given as a child.
There were many benefits to farm life, and I want my family and children to have those advantages for themselves, as well. But even though things are much different now, fond memories from my experience being reared on the farm has come to bless my life nearly every day.
It’s more than great memories, though I have a plethora of those, like picking a large bowl of fresh strawberries every day for my breakfast or cutting dozens of watermelons in the field in half with a machete so we could eat the cool center. My dad used to say that we ate better than kings. Fresh eggs, whole milk, butter and vine-ripened fruits, vegetables, and berries were just the beginning. We had the good things of life in abundance.
I can only share a few examples from the two-dozen exquisite years I spent there. It was hard work, and we sacrificed greatly to make it a reality, but the benefits are very sweet. My mom used to teach us that the sugar in the corn begins turning into starch just 15-minutes after the corn is picked, so she would say “Get the water boiling before you pick the corn,” and we did.
It made a difference then, and the truths taught in that lesson bless my life still today. Dad taught the same principle with a different saying. As we would build the sheds, animal pens, fence lines, and our home together, on occasion, I would cut the 2×4 board too short for the place it was destined to fill. With a twinkle in his eye, he would say “Measure twice; cut once.”
We learned to do new things and developed talents we never knew we had, and I have applied that principle in many different situations today. It has blessed my life. My parents taught me then lessons even more important today as they have come to bless and help my family and posterity. This happens in the scriptures, as well. Lessons taught by prophets of years gone by help and encourage us to be sure that we make decisions today we can live with tomorrow.
But as good as the vine-ripened produce was, I think my favorite memories of the farm were being with family and working side-by-side with my father. My mother and siblings were part of this as well. I cherish those moments especially today. Some lessons were taught with words; many we imparted by example.
- Get started early.
- Hard work is often necessary.
- Be thrifty.
- Compassion, empathy, and service are paramount.
- Get along with others.
- Work can be fun.
What I didn’t understand about my experience growing up on the farm—at least at the time—was how this opportunity would influence my life years later and be re-lived in my memory frequently. Hardly a day goes by that some lesson or experience or principle learned on the farm as a child doesn’t reveal itself in my life and memory today. Loving parents still help me be the father I am today. Joy and the remarkable experience of our lives on the farm have come to bless me every day of my life now.
Sometimes our imagination conceives something so phenomenal we can only live it in our minds or experience a small portion of the whole—visions of a picture-perfect reality. At these times, we handle the situation by saying that it’s too good to be true or perhaps this really only happens in storybooks, and rightfully so. Because these situations occur so infrequently, the opportunity truly becomes one in a million.
That makes our story even more remarkable, because indeed we had the chance to experience every tantalizing, invigorating detail. Time can alter the way we perceive history. We magnify the good things and minimize the challenges. Indeed, life is full of opposites. But it is also true that on occasion we experience something so remarkable that we cannot justifiably put it into words—a beautiful song, a breathtaking sunset, a stunning instance that cannot be reproduced any better than the original. Is it possible that a lifetime can achieve that kind of solidarity? I didn’t think so then, but I do now.
President Dieter F Uchtdorf has said “We have the faithful promise of God that He will neither forget nor forsake those who incline their hearts to Him. Have hope and faith in that promise. Learn to love your Heavenly Father and become His disciple in word and in deed.
“Be assured that if you but hold on, believe in Him, and remain faithful in keeping the commandments, one day you will experience for yourself the promises revealed to the Apostle Paul: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
That is a beautiful promise. It captures for me the breadth of how our Heavenly Father wants to bless us. Whether you are in the country on the farm or deep in the city, the promise is real.
And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy…
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.