My work continues to bring me such a feeling of joy as I help small businesses navigate their marketing & business plans! Recently, I’ve been hitting the highways of Nebraska to meet up with clients for one-on-one assistance, many of those trips are up into the north central part of the state. On each drive, I love the quiet time and walk down memory lane it provides to me. That part of Nebraska has a special meaning to me because growing up, my dad had a custom hay business and I was one of his “hired” hands. We grew up around Albion, Nebraska and he had quite a few customers there, but as his business grew, he expanded and moved into the Clearwater, Ewing, Emmet, Bassett & Atkinson areas. From alfalfa to prairie hay, he loved the custom hay business and I loved getting to spend time working alongside him. As I drive into that area of Nebraska, I can feel my heart grow fond as I take in the simple beauty of a growing hay meadow on my drives. Some hay meadows are waiting to be cut and some are filled full of fresh round bales, a sign of a hard day’s work. It’s beautiful to see Mother Nature do it’s thing to provide a bountiful crop. During my summers in those areas, we were fortunate to work with some of the nicest people and I know that it’s where my passion for nature and agriculture developed.
It’s been fun to think back about how we would drive a camper up to where we were “haying” for the week and stay. We also had a few people that asked us to stay with them when we were working in their fields (which actually seems a little crazy to me now, but it didn’t then). We didn’t have top-of-the-line equipment, there were actually some days where I think we were broke down more than we were working, but it was all part of the experience. Dad’s tractor line-up included a few cab-less tractors, so I had one of the best tans a girl could ask for when I would return to school each fall (well, except for the back of my legs)! We would return home most weekends to see mom, but every now and then, we would stay to check out a local rodeo or county fair. I even saw Chris LeDoux in concert one summer! A lot of kids my age spent their summers playing ball or just messing around, but I made money – windrowing, raking and baling hay most all summer long (I also served as the “parts man” on days when we’d have a breakdown and was the “lunch gal” nearly every day as I could prepare a mean lunchmeat sandwich). I can’t even begin to count the many life lessons I learned during those summers and the time I spent with my dad will be time I will treasure forever. I am so appreciative for the work ethic that was instilled in me during those summers – and there’s so many things I wish I would have written down to recall the experiences a bit better.
While I enjoy this time strolling down memory lane, I love it when I arrive to my final destination too. It’s an absolute honor to meet and connect with amazing people and businesses in rural Nebraska on each visit. There are so many unique stories, connections and a lot of spirit in these small towns. It’s inspiring to connect with people who are working to pursue their dreams and to witness their passion for what they do first-hand. It’s definitely a different type of work than what I did growing up, but I enjoy returning to those areas to see how they’ve changed. People nowadays can conduct business a little differently and can reach a larger audience through social media. It sets my heart on fire to help rural business-owners find ways to tell their story and differentiate what they do. So many people think that rural areas are dying, but I can tell you there’s so much life in these small towns and I’m grateful to be helping them grow and expand!