We were ready for harvest this year. All of our equipment went through the “cheap shop” on our farm and then we took the big equipment through the “expensive shop” in town for $135/hour. From the combine to tractors and grain cart to semis including the grain handling system, we felt like everything was in the best shape we ever had it in. We even had a stockpile of common spare parts that my son had organized, including belts, bearings, filters, chains and disc blades, all lined up and ready to go. This was going to be a really efficient fall.

Then we had a small area of tar spot show up in one field, and that got us started combining a little earlier than planned. After only 50 acres, our first corn head repair was needed as a clutch, that we did not have, went out. Fortunately, we weren’t in a hurry so it was good to get that repair out of the way.

Oh boy. Little did we know, that would just be the beginning of daily repairs and mishaps for the fall. We then had combine bearings, sieves, clutches, gear box, unload auger bearings, tractor PTO switches, a semi in the ditch, a side discharge on a bin left open, belts, and shear bolts to repair and deal with. Of course, we did not have all of those parts, and so we traveled to seven different dealer locations for parts. Those issues were on top of some down corn we were not aware of.

I was thinking, “What is going on and what are we doing different?” The previous year was clear sailing all year, and this year was the opposite, in spite of all of our preparation. Repairs and downtime are exhausting, but through it all I could always count on one thing, and that one thing was my son.

When something happened, he was always there, and together we were a good team. After the initial analysis of another breakdown or problem, we shared some sighs and laughs to take the edge off the frustration. No, these were not the memories of a sunny vacation laying on a beach in Mexico. These were far more galvanizing memories of dealing with adversity and for me really coming to appreciate how much my son means to me. The value was not monetary. It was way more than that. It was something that cannot be quantified in a formula.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Clearly the special bond on the farm and in the field through good times and bad is so unique. This is why when it comes to estate planning, there are often plans that appear to favor a farming heir. Some family members may not understand or like their parents' distribution plan, but "memories" like my son and I had this fall can effect estate planning. I often say, "To those who understand this, no explanation is needed, and to those who don’t, no explanation is possible."

Now don’t get me wrong, I love all of my children dearly, but this one is for my son. Thanks for being there every step of the way this fall. Not every moment of this fall was enjoyable, but I am thankful that you were there to share this memory together with me.

I hope each of you take the opportunity to show appreciation to all of your children, including the ones who work with you every day. If you have an heir that is there for you all the time like I do, make sure to express your appreciation, not just at the end with your estate plan, but also along the way at the very moment that you recognize how much you appreciate them.

Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or friesen@farmestate.com.