While a lot of people might have Friday night plans, many farmers plans don't include leaving their farm. They are in the barn or in the fields, especially this time of year. For many of us, a Friday night is the same as a Tuesday night.
Last Friday, my evening had a different feel, though. I had a sense of optimism as I watched my family work under the Friday night lights in different capacities.
My oldest son had left for a scrimmage football game; as he and his United Township Panther Varsity Football team laced up their cleats and put on their pads and helmets for one common goal. I know under these COVID-19 conditions, contact sports are a big no, at least here in Illinois, but the high school football team was able to gather for a scrimmage game under the football stadium lights.
The team’s promise has been pretty awesome, at least in my viewpoint. Steadfast with their commitment and sure dedication, they show up and practice, even during a COVID year when the chance to play is unknown at best. They still show up for that chance.
It really fills my heart with pride. Watching your child practice with grit and determination, geared toward something they love, is an immeasurable feeling.
I'm blessed because I also get to watch my husband, who was working under the Friday night lights as well. His lights happened to be in an open field, where he was finishing seeding wheat at 8 p.m. before the rain came.
Our 14-year-old daughter was also working under the Friday night lights. She was pulling a 1,000 bushel grain cart with a John Deere 8360R tractor, following her grandfather around the field with the combine, as we were working on high moisture corn. She was in her element: listening to country music on the radio, in a corn field, under the beam of the big green tractor's headlights.
My youngest boy was with me, working on the dairy, feeding calves and washing calf bottles. Later, he was hauling seed to his father.
Friday night lights resemble what America is really all about — hard work, sweat, some bad breaks, some good plays, and a heart filled with optimism, driving you to persevere.
Friday night lights make my heart grow with pride for the human spirit. It is like a beautiful hymn being sung in church that you continue to hum the whole way home. My friends, we must focus on the Friday night light moments in our life. Those glimmering hours — when we see kids, both big and small, work hard for something they are sincerely passionate about — will truly make you believe that everything in our world is going to be alright.
Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.