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Life on the family farm under an open heaven: The two monsters

Tom Heck for Progressive Dairyman Published on 05 May 2017

I always look forward to spring after a long, cold, snowy winter. There is something about the longer daylight and the warmth it brings. But what is really good is to see the earth come alive again. It’s wonderful to see the grass and trees green up, along with all the birds coming back from down south.

And then for me as a farmer, there’s the joy of getting out into the fields and working the ground, getting it ready to plant my crops.



Awhile back, I was out plowing one of the best fields on the farm here. By best, I mean it’s one of the best-yielding fields with almost no rocks in it. So it was a real surprise to me when I was plowing along, and my plow hit a rock that threw it totally out of the ground.

I’ve had this happen in the past some, and it usually is a rock that’s a couple of inches under the surface, weighing anywhere from 40 to 150 pounds.

Since my son, Joshua, was close by, I asked him to get a dirt shovel and dig it out. We’ve done this in the past; once we have it dug out, we usually put it on top of the plow and dispose of it. We don’t want to leave it in the field, since they can do serious damage to equipment that can take a lot of work and money to fix.

So Joshua started to dig out around it while I kept plowing. Then after a little while, two unexpected things happened. One was that I hit another rock that caused my plow to fly up out of the ground, and the other was that Joshua came up to me and said the first rock was a monster he couldn’t dig out. My enjoyable day of spring fieldwork was not going as I planned.

I told Joshua to skip the first rock for now and to dig out the second one while I kept plowing. It sounded like a good idea to both of us, but after awhile he came up to me and told me the second rock was also a monster. He went on to inform me they were both the greenish-bluish type of rocks we sometimes find on our farm.


They are extremely hard and heavy rocks. In all of our years farming here, we had never found two rocks like these this large.

Joshua said to me, “What are we going to do with these?” To which I replied, “We’ve got to get them out of here.” Then I told him to go home and get a tractor on the dump box and bring it out to the field and then to go back home and get “Big Boy.”

Who is “Big Boy,” you ask? That’s the name we’ve given to our skid loader. We use him for so much heavy work here that we’ve come to call him “Big Boy.” We really appreciate good equipment that makes our work a lot easier.

Once Joshua had the equipment in the field for me, I quit plowing and went to work with Big Boy, digging out the rocks. It was no easy task, even for him. We got the rocks out, loaded on the dump box and then hauled them down to the woods where we dumped them. For as much work as it was for Big Boy to handle them, I would guess they each weighed well over 1,000 pounds.

With the rocks out of the field, I was able to fill in the two large holes left behind and finish working the field. Shortly thereafter, we were able to plant it. Afterwards, Joshua asked me, “Why didn’t you hit those rocks in the past with your plow?”

I explained to him that we hadn’t worked that field in a few years since we had it in hay. Up here in the North Country, our ground freezes down deep in the winter and then thaws out in the spring. With the frost going in and out, it actually raises the rocks up in the ground. That’s why I hit those monster rocks with my plow. Fortunately, my plow didn’t break when I hit them.


Sometimes in life, we get hit totally unexpectedly with a “monster” we never saw coming, just like I hit those monster rocks out in my field that day. But I didn’t have to despair that day; I had Joshua and some good equipment to help me take care of my two monster rocks. Likewise in life, when a monster comes our way, we shouldn’t despair; we can cry out to our loving Heavenly Father who cares for us more than we can comprehend.

He is always there to hear us when we get down on our knees and pray. Prayer moves the hand of God and changes things in this world when nothing else will. Prayer is the lifeline that has saved my life many times in the past; it has gotten rid of many monsters for me. And I know God will meet you at the place of prayer and help you deal with the monsters in your life.  end mark

Tom Heck, his wife, Joanne, and their two children own and operate a 35-cow dairy farm in Wisconsin. Email Tom Heck . or order his book at Tom Heck.