Published on Sunday, March 5, 2017
Carl Sandburg is credited with saying, “Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.”
Meredith Bernard grew up in the country and her parents worked in agriculture, but she never planned to live on a North Carolina farm. After getting degrees in animal science and ag education, she began traveling for her job in feed sales. Her interest in horses helped her connect with the clients she encountered. While out in the country side, Meredith met a cattleman named Lawrence who helped her get back in the saddle after a bad riding accident.
She began riding again and fell in love with that cattleman. "I wasn't born and raised here.” Meredith explains, looking over the family farm. “The first time I helped him work cows, I had never worked them before other than a little bit in animal science lab. Working cows with your husband can be eventful. There can be words said, and there can be need for apologies later, and that still happens every time. But that first time, it went really smooth. He told me later, after we got married, 'I knew that first time that we worked cows that I was going to marry you because none of my other guy friends ever worked them that good, they would get too excited.' I really feel like I was made to be on the farm."
Lawrence and Meredith settled down on the farm where he was raised. Meredith’s unexpected adventure as a farmer took off from there. Now, the couple raises their two children, cow calf pairs, and one milk cow in rural North Carolina.
Unlike his wife, Lawrence has spent his whole life working on the farm. He’s been adding onto the farm his dad built for years. He says farming must be in his blood. “You plant something and it comes up and everything goes good. But then when it goes bad, then what do you do? Well, you plant it again. You try again.” Lawrence laughs. Even through the ups and downs in agriculture, Lawrence wouldn’t want to do anything else.
The couple’s children, Wesley and Austin, are a big part of the family farm too. “I am very proud of them.” Meredith beams. “Our son is eight and a half and I home school him. For the last two winters, he goes with my husband every morning. No matter what the weather is like, he doesn't complain. He gets up, gets his clothes on, eats his breakfast, and he gets on the tractor with his dad and they go feed.”
As they shadow their parents, the kids are learning more than how to care for the animals. “I just love that they can go outside and be and do. I'm really glad that they're getting that work ethic, seeing what's happening and the importance of what we're doing. It's not like we have to force them to do it. In some ways, it's just understood. This is our life and these are the things that have to be done. They understand, in order to keep food on the table, literally, we have to feed the cows.”
Even though its great to make memories as a family riding in the gator, or checking calves, the farming life isn’t always easy. “Somedays when it's really hard and the bills are really high and the cattle prices are really low, like they have been this last year, I've even asked Lawrence, ‘You know, we could just sell everything, or sell down to hobby size and we'd still be poor, but it wouldn't be as much work, you know what I'm saying?’ It's just, especially for my husband, it's not just a way of life, it is his life. It's in his blood and he wouldn't know what else to do. And he's got to be, and I'm kind of the same way, we've got to be doing. So we're going to keep going. Things always turn up and you do learn a lot in those hard times. The hard days make the good days even sweeter. When you look back and can say, 'We made it through that and here we are today.' Watching your kids learn and do and thrive here. It makes it worthwhile. We wouldn't want to be anywhere else.”
Life on the farm may not be what Meredith pictured for herself, but it’s where she belongs. It is home. “Even though I wasn't raised on a farm, I feel my heart is here. I love this farm and I've come to love this way of life. It just seems to suit me. It suits both of us and I've found that it's an awesome place to raise children too. My hope is one day they'll be able to look back and truly appreciate this life of being able to walk outside everyday and see God's handiwork everywhere you look. The way that the animals and the land need each other and thrive off each other. The symbiotic relationship between the two is just beautiful. I really love how God has used this place to kind of open my eyes to things that I just had never thought about before, or seen before. And he's grown my faith a lot being here too. We love it here.”
That’s why Lawrence and Meredith Bernard farm.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, cattle, farm life, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, North Carolina, Meredith Bernard, This Farm Wife