Lyndon Thomas Insurance Summer 2018

LYN’S LEDGER

Lyndon Thomas Insurance

Summer 2018

We Help You With Medicare.

NOBODY’S GOING TO FIX IT FOR YOU

M any young people get their first taste of employment during their teenage summers. A retail job, babysitting, or perhaps a lawn- mowing gig is their introduction to the work world. However, when you grow up on a farm like I did, work life begins a little earlier. While I would still have many hours to play, by age 8 or 9, mowing our lawn was a major summer occupation. Each area of lawn mowed earned me 10 cents. If rainfall kept the grass growing at a good pace and I stayed focused, I could make about $2 with each mowing. I was delighted when Dad purchased a riding lawn mower. I asked for a raise because the lawn got mowed more quickly, and it looked better. Dad said it was now easier to mow the lawn in less time. I don’t remember getting that raise. A summer task that I thoroughly detested was hoeing weeds in the tree rows. Also called “shelter belts,” these are quarter- to half-mile long rows of trees planted at the edges of fields. In many Midwestern states, shelter belts were planted through a program started by the U. S. Department of Agriculture many decades ago in an effort to reduce wind erosion. To reward the landowner for cultivating the small, dry-root trees for three years, the Soil Stabilization and conservation service planted rows of trees at no or very low cost. My father made great use of this program through the years in planting several miles of shelter belts. My labor as a young man helped ensure that these federal dollars did not go to waste! Dad was convinced — and I very grudgingly agreed — that in defeating weeds and keeping tiny trees alive, time was of the essence. Weeds are so much easier to hoe at 2–3 inches than at 6–8 inches or a foot tall. In the cool of many early summer mornings, for an hour before breakfast, Dad, Kevin, and I would hoe weeds in the tree rows. Then, after breakfast, it was my job to go back out for more weeding. I envied my older brother as he got to do other farm work while I was relegated to hoeing weeds. As The Who sang back then, it is no exaggeration to say that I have not only seen, but also have hoed “miles and miles and miles” of weeds! As in many aspects of life, the vantage point of years brings a larger perspective, and I

am now genuinely proud of the work I did as a young man. More than 40 years later, Dad’s shelter belts are beautiful and strong, slowing the wind, retaining moisture, and providing shelter to many species of wildlife. At about age 11, my summers began to include raking alfalfa hay with the old John Deere “B” tractor. What a relief from hoeing weeds! By 14, I was graduating to other tractor work, such as plowing and disking in the spring and mowing hay. It was a matter of real pride to be operating the Haybuster stacking machine by 16. Towed and powered by the tractor, windrows of hay were picked up and deposited into a rotating cage. Hydraulic controls maneuvered an arm that distributed the hay and built a tapered top on a haystack 16 feet wide and 14 feet tall. Equipment breakdowns are the bane of the farmer’s life, with the harvest in danger of being lost. If a machine breaks down, either you fix it yourself or you pay someone else to fix it. There were no rescues; whining and complaining wastes time and accomplishes nothing. As a teenager, I could cut a pretty decent weld on a broken piece of machinery. The farmer’s relationship with the weather is complicated. The need for rain during the growing season is absolute, yet nothing is worse than rain during harvest. Racing into the late hours to get the hay up or the grain in before a thunderstorm meant the difference between financial success or a lost harvest. While farming was not my career choice, each Medicare Annual Enrollment Period reminds me of harvest season on the farm. The services and benefits provided to my clients and compensation received later is the value of the harvest. The compressed nature of the eight-week AEP each fall is when the focus is on the work to be done and not the number of hours worked. Hopefully I’m very busy this harvest season!

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I hope you are enjoying your summer!

–Lyn Thomas

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