My grandfather weekend visit (Gal Likar)
‘The weather is going to turn bad this afternoon, could you help me with the hay
later?’ I was just visiting my grandfather who has a small farm and a few cows. His
farmland is scattered around our small town in Slovenia, a couple of fields and some
meadows surrounded by forests.
‘Of course.’ I said, sweeping away the looming thought of tomorrow’s exam. It was
exam month and the weekend offered me a chance to catch my breath and relax my
mind in our quiet town from the busy atmosphere of Ljubljana, my university city where I
study electrical engineering.
I quickly went home to have lunch and then jumped on my bike to ride to the
meadow. There my grandfather was already working to put the hay in the hayrack with
his band of helpers - whoever of his friends had the time today when he called them. I
was the youngest one by quite a margin, the other guys - including my grandfather -
were all around 70 or 80 years old, which is not an unusual sight on small farms all
around Slovenia. Bigger farms that work on large swathes of land, with plenty of
livestock and modern farming equipment that can earn you a good living - even though
a farmer’s life is not easy - usually stay in the family, but the smaller farms are
struggling with a shortage of young people willing to run them. It’s just not profitable and
the current lifestyle of youngsters is in stark contrast to that of a farmer. Waking up at
five in the morning, cleaning cow feces, not being able to travel around because the
livestock needs you every day and also the large amounts of physical work. My
grandfather often says that a farmer is even more industrious than God, because as it’s
said in the Bible, God rested on the seventh day, but a farmer would work very hard if
he knew that the eight day would be rainy.
I quickly climbed on the hayrack to take up the hardest part of today’s work; stuffing
the hayrack with hay. My grandfather was picking rows of hay with the tractor and
dumping it in front of the hayrack, where two others were passing it up to me with the
pitchforks. It was baking hot this day, but it was easy to work with the old people telling
all kinds of jokes and stories which they probably learned when they were about my
age. I couldn’t help to think about what my town will look like when I am their age. Will
be my grandchildren willing to help me at my home? Who will run my grandfathers’ farm
when he is gone? Where is all this knowledge that my grandfather and his friends have
about the livestock, the seasons, weather forecasting and the farmwork going to go if
nobody is prepared to listen to him? Our grandparents have so much to offer to us, but
the truth is that young people have so much to do now. So many options, so many
things to experience, so many opportunities in the cities and abroad, that a sedimentary
farmer’s life is far from most youngsters’ idea of the future.
I said goodbye to my grandfather, after waiting for him to milk the cows and jumped
on the bike with a big bottle of warm fresh milk which I love so much. By the time I got
home, half of it was already missing.
As Bob Dylan sings ‘The times they are a-changin’ and they really are. What the
future has for us is uncertain, but perhaps before the turn of the century, the lifestyle
and vision of the youth will change again, as it has in the past. We mustn’t worry too
much, because Destiny has a funny way of sorting things out the way they should be, all
we must do is follow our heart and do what fulfils us.