Hundreds of memories come to mind when I think of the season of fall. The camaraderie of cool morning exercise walks in the days when we all washed cows at World Dairy Expo (WDE). The cold rush of the outside door aisles at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in contrast to the warmth of the show ring. The thrill of a first-place finish on the green shavings of the All-American Jersey Show in Louisville as the leaves were just beginning to fall in the South. Making noise for pictures of the very best cows in North America on the lawn by the pond at WDE. The iconic trip up Lakeshore Drive in Toronto on the way into the Royal. No matter how many times you make that trip, you know you’re about to be part of a great show and probably a great get-together afterward.
Leading a cow to Grand Champion in Madison and helping get ready hundreds of winners of that special medal that is unique to WDE. The friendships began and forged in the fall show seasons bring an instant smile – they are old friendships and new, all produced around a common thread of cows.
Soccer, football and starting school are surely fall memories that many share. One year, I went to school for two days and then went on the road to multiple national shows. After about four weeks, the teacher called my mom and said that I had only been in school a few days. My poor mom replied that I had only been home a few days too. That was the year I took typing class, and to this day, my typing skills look like I was traveling the show circuit, not in typing class.
As I think of fall on the farm, a special memory is of corn silage harvest. We put ensilage in the silo in those days. Our family all called chopped corn ensilage because silage + going in a silo = ensilage. When I arrived at college in the Midwest, no one was calling it ensilage because the silage was all going in a bunker.
I love the way corn silage smells when it is freshly chopped. To this day, when I lead a group in an icebreaker exercise, I challenge them to think of their favourite childhood smell – my answer is always freshly chopped corn silage.
When I think of fall, I think about tasks slowing down just a bit. Shorter days and cooler temps mean the lawn has slowed its growth and the flowers may not need as much care as they start their hibernation, so we have more time for preparing for winter in the barn.
No memory of fall is complete without Thanksgiving memories including evening-before food preparation, setting the table for the family that gathered and the smell of turkey cooking. The biggest reason for Thanksgiving is giving thanks for all that we have. As farmers, we always have much to be grateful for, beginning with our way of life. Cows, crops, wide open spaces and working with our family are just the beginning of things to be thankful for. Our biggest blessing is our family.
May you have a safe and productive fall. May you take a moment to stop and be grateful for the little things in life. May you count your blessings on Thanksgiving and all throughout the year.