June 13 2024 11:25 AM

Spending time together is greatest gift I can give my dad.

As Father’s Day approaches, I decided to reminisce on the Father’s Days from years past. This holiday was a lot different when I was in elementary school than it is now as an adult. I have the same father, of course, and I am ever fortunate to be able to work alongside him every single day and consider him not just my father but one of my best friends. But the idea of the day has evolved from simple presents to working alongside each other.

As a little second grader sitting at what seemed like a huge desk (now I realize it was way too small for the average person), I remember being given construction paper every June to make Father’s Day cards. The assignment was to draw something our dad would want to do on Father’s Day. I was the odd person out in class because most of the kids would draw things like grills, boats, and pools. I drew a tractor and a hayfield because that’s where Father’s Day was always spent — riding next to dad in one of the tractors making hay on the usual hot June day.

As middle and high school came about, I would buy my dad gifts. One year, I bought him a John Deere hat, a hitch pin, and a T-shirt. Another year, he got a new Leatherman. He never wanted a grill, and fishing wasn’t something we had a lot of time for. We had a pond next to the house, so we would go, but none of us were avid fishermen. The stereotype is that all farmers are hunters, and although my dad hunted when he was younger, he had basically stopped hunting after my brothers and I were born, so there wasn’t anything like that that he would want.

As I got older, I decided the best gift I could give him was just going with him for the day. Those days, we’d be in the hayfield, moving cattle, fixing machinery, looking at crops, or doing any of the other million things on his list. I came to realize rather quickly that my dad didn’t care about material items. He was happy as could be just having someone to share the farm life with.

To all the fathers out there, have a wonderful and safe Father’s Day. I hope you receive a lot of love and care from those closest to you. May your day be filled with laughs and happiness. Cherish the construction paper cards and the moments together. Stay safe out there, folks.

Courtney Henderson

The author is a sixth-generation farmer and fifth-generation dairy producer in southwest Virginia, where she and her family own and operate a 145-head Holstein dairy. Courtney is involved in agriculture organizations throughout her community and is a graduate of Virginia Tech.