The following entry will be the last from Garth Gatson, our summer intern. I hope you've enjoyed the perspective he's shared here, at least as much as we've enjoyed having him with us. Hopefully he benefited as much from his time with us as we did from having him here. Keep his name in the back of your mind, you just might hear it again someday. Garth has a bright future ahead of him.
Incredibly enough, summer has come and gone and I find myself back in class at the University of Missouri. After spending three months at RHR, I have been back in my own backyard for over a week now. I have a week of classes behind me, I’ve looked over all the cattle here at home, and things are back in the groove as if I had never even left.
When I was researching the philosophers for my last entry I ran across a quote that fits pretty well here.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”-Heraclitus
I don’t know if this is true for rivers, but I can tell you for certain that it is true of farms and ranches. In many ways both quantifiable and abstract, I did not return to the same farm that I had left in May. The rains came early and often in Missouri this summer, and as a result our crops look better than ever. Our corn has a chance to average 200 bushels per acre, and our beans look fantastic as well. The calves that were quite small when I left gained a couple hundred pounds over the summer and now look quite different. What was an empty space of lot behind my house when I left for South Dakota has been covered with gravel, and piers have been poured for a big new shop that is about to be built.
The people have changed too. My sister lived off the farm during the summer for the first time and worked at a bank in Columbia. My cousin was married over the summer and moved from the farm to Kansas City. This was the first summer that I hadn’t spent on the farm, so Dad did several things differently without me around to work. It also gave him a chance to look at the farm and its future a little differently.
The biggest change, however, is in me. The things that I learned and experienced this summer affected me permanently. I’ve learned that there are different ways to do almost everything. From working cattle to cutting hay to establishing long term goals for a business, everything can be done a little differently. I have learned to do things differently, but also to think about things differently as well. Luke often talks about paradigm shifts and cultivating the ability to see opportunities in what once looked like challenges.
I’ve learned that you don’t really have to know how to do something to give it a try. Several times this summer while working on a project I would ask Luke how he wanted me to do something. He would often reply with something like, “I don’t know; I’ve never done this before. What do you think?”. It wasn’t that Luke had no idea what he was doing; it was simply that he was trying something for the first time and ironing out the process as he went. I learned that if you only do what you already know how to do really well, you end up limiting yourself. At some point planning and research can only take you so far, and it is time to try new things out for yourself.
And most importantly, I’ve learned that it is people that really make the difference. I am someone who can get along just fine spending all day by myself baling hay or fixing fence. While I certainly enjoy being with my family very much, I can also learn to spend my summer 800 miles away from home. But being with people you enjoy certainly makes a difference. While I rarely left the ranch this summer, plenty of visitors made their way through RHR. Garnet tells me that the number for the summer is approaching 500, and I have had the opportunity to visit and spend time with many of them. I appreciate the knowledge and entertainment that each of them brought to the ranch. What I enjoyed the most, however, was simply being able to live and work with the Perman family. Lyle, Garnet, Luke, Naomi, Isaac, Ella, and Grandma Vivian all played a special part in making my summer enjoyable. For trips to Akaska, lunch in the tractor, warm kouchen, pictures from the summer, a portrait from Ella to “Mr. Garth”, and a thousand other things large and small, I owe the Perman family a very big thank-you. Most of all, I am thankful simply to call them my friends.
I am happy to be back on my own farm again, but it is not the same farm. And I am not the same man.