Production Blog

Better Late Than Never

William Pistorius flags down his father, Pete, to take a healthy and therapeutic lunch break during spring planting near Blue Mound, Illinois. (Photo Courtesy of Pistorius Farms)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- My husband nearly ran over me yesterday. He'd asked me to refill his water jug and I was standing along the lane waiting for the handoff as he roared by in the pickup. I yelled. I waved my arms. I made an attempt to give chase.

I wiped the gravel dust off my face, retrieved my phone and called him. He picked up (it's illegal to talk on your phone while driving in Illinois). "You're not supposed to be talking on your phone when driving ...," I said. The seconds of silence that followed were deafening.

I quickly listed his infractions -- including my near road rash. I'd also discovered he had filled the brand new water jug earlier in the day without removing reams of promotional literature from the inside the cavity.

"You need to slow down," I said in my most pleading and nonjudgmental voice.

I wasn't mad. I was worried. "I'm turning around and coming back home," he said and hung up.

I know part of my reaction came from the fact that my Facebook page that morning reminded me that one of my favorite farmers would have been 40 years old yesterday. Tommy was always hustling. An everyday, simple act of dumping water off the top of a grain truck tarp ended in tragedy when the truck bed touched overhead power lines.

We all know mistakes happen when life goes too fast. Time is money in our business, especially when 16 men are on the clock and rain has sidelined them for part of the morning during a week that was already shortened by a holiday. We run a lawn service, but it's similar in many ways to the time pressures of farming. We've had some costly equipment errors recently and those instances are almost always followed by the assumption that working harder will fix everything.

This spring has been challenging for many farmers, too. We got off to a roaring start in many areas, but those cool temperatures created some planting and emergence challenges. Crusting has caused some replanting of corn that unfurled under ground. I know farmers who were forced to replant soybeans that broke their necks pushing through the hardened soil. My Twitter feed lit up with photos of rotary hoes in action this spring. The sight of that tool alone makes the blood pressure climb a notch.

We've added spray passes and split nitrogen applications and other operations that must be winnowed into narrow work windows. As you rush to complete those tasks, I just hope you'll take care to look around and listen. Use your safety gear when working with chemicals. Take a break and don't feel guilty about it.

My mother used to send me to the field with a sandwich, a bag of cookies or a jug of lemonade. "Make your Dad stop," was her order. We didn't have cell phones and radios to make quick wake-up calls back then. She knew Dad would always take a few minutes to climb down off the tractor if I showed up, whether he was hungry or not.

Yesterday, I waited for my husband (in a safe location) as he rounded the corner and swung back into the drive. I ordered him out of the truck. I made him take a couple of deep breaths. I made him pet the dog. "I'm going to be late," he said. At that, I threw my arms around him and reminded him what really matters.

"Better late, than never, buddy. Better late than never."

Pamela smith can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN



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