You Are My Sunshine

My father climbs into the silo.
He has come, rung by rung,
up the wooden trail that scales
that tall belly of cement.

It’s winter, twenty below zero,
He can hear the wind overhead.
The silage beneath his boots
is so frozen it has no smell.

My father takes up a pick-ax
and chops away a layer of silage.
He works neatly, counter-clockwise
under a yellow light,

then lifts the chunks with a pitchfork
and throws them down the chute.
They break as they fall
and rattle far below.

His breath comes out in clouds,
his fingers begin to ache, but
he skims off another layer
where the frost is forming

and begins to sing, “You are my
sunshine, my only sunshine.”
~Joyce Sutphen, “Silo Solo” from First Words

Farmers gotta be tough. There is no taking a day off from chores. The critters need to eat and their beds cleaned even during the coldest and hottest days. Farmers rise before the sun and go to bed long after the sun sets.

I come from a long line of farmers on both sides – my mother was the daughter of wheat farmers and my father was the son of subsistence stump farmers who had to supplement their income with outside jobs as a cook and in lumber mills. Both my parents went to college; their parents wanted something better for them than they had. Both my parents had professions but still chose to live on a farm – daily milkings, crops in the garden and fields, raising animals for meat.

My husband’s story is similar, though his parents didn’t graduate from college. Dan milked cows with his dad and as a before-school job in the mornings.

We still chose to live on a farm to raise our children and commit to the daily work, no matter the weather, on sunlit days and blowing snow days and gray muddy days. And now, when our grandchildren visit, we introduce them to the routine and rhythms of farm life, the good and the bad, the joys and the sorrows, and through it all, we are grateful for the values that follow through the generations of farming people.

And our favorite song to sing to our grandchildren is “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine” as it is the sun that sustains our days and its promise of return that sustains our nights.

You’ll never know, dears, how much we love you.
Please don’t take our sunshine away.

6 thoughts on “You Are My Sunshine

  1. Me also! : ) This was a wonderful post! I wasn’t raised on a farm–I was a “city girl”–lol. Our little community had barely 5000 folks, But my grandfather and uncles were farmers, so I got to spend lots of time with them–even “learning” to milk a cow (too little to really do it completely)–definitely gathering eggs, lifting some of the reluctant hens from behind to steal their eggs, going into the granary to grab a handful of wheat to chew into gum! Happy days, not really aware of the war going on across the world–until I stood on my grandparents’ porch to hear the loud hum of the hundreds of planes flying in squadrons over our Kansas plains to join the battle.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. i also sang to our three, and to all seven grands. my parents sang in the car as we traveled, and my three sisters and i worked the harmonies. some of the best times, for sure! such a blessing…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, living on The Farm was a gift.
    When I do my Zoom QiGong and the instructor tells me to take my mind to my favorite place,
    my mind takes me to standing near the pond on The Farm.
    As I type those words, I become sentimental with tears in my eyes.
    The Farm was a very, very special place.
    There was love. There was work.
    There was a place to enjoy nature.
    There was family and the remembance of family going back three generations.
    I have moved on. Sadly, for us it was time.
    I’m content about that fact. It was just too much work for my dad and me.
    It is helpful, when one can come to accept the fact that it is time to downsize.
    You are blessed to still live on your beloved farm.
    Enjoy the moments.

    Liked by 1 person

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