Working Together

Siblings: For Better or Worse

Three Brothers April 23, 2023

(From the archives-It’s been dusted off and polished up)

The other day I drove by a local farm. Two of the brothers were out in front of the barn working together.  

One brother was on the back of a tractor, and the other brother appeared to be holding something for the project.

Seeing them pulled at my heart as I thought of my boys.

Were those brothers peacefully solving the problem or butting heads over a solution? Probably a little of both.  

Were they willingly helpful or purposefully contrary? Dependent upon the day.

I thought more about it, reflecting on the two brothers, wondering about their relationship, and how it must feel to work together EVERY day. 

How many people are fortunate (or unfortunate?) enough to have the opportunity to work alongside a sibling (or multiple siblings) their entire life?

There is a closeness that can’t be denied or overlooked. It truly is very special.

When born and raised in a farm family, you work together on good days and bad.

Through marriage and divorce, babies and graduations, every day, a commitment to the farm (and each other) never stops.  

They worked together during family spats and before they could legally drive.  

They remember the old way of doing things, and what brought about change.

Together, they worked the morning after a night that did not end, during heat waves and bitter cold. Through the start of life and the end.

They know each other’s contour, how each one’s muscles brace, and how one’s mouth tenses right before a hay bale is tossed from the wagon.  

As siblings, they recognize each other’s pain, expose each other’s shortcomings, and stand together, united in the driveway, listening to a neighbor or feed salesman.  

They dig and needle each other until the prickles poke through… yet are first to offer the other a hand to get up from underneath a tractor.  

They have worked through each other’s breakups, and they have been around long enough to sense the other’s mood by the way the barn door is opened every morning.

Working side by side, they mowed hay, discussed the drainage problem up the road, and planned the next tiling project. They have passed wrenches to each other, exchanged harsh words, and rolled each other a time or two over something ridiculous in the barnyard.

They have dug deep through low milk prices… together.

They have stripped down to their skivvies and dove into the farm pond together on a hot July afternoon. They have shared the same cup in the milk house forever, which always offered a long cool drink after hay and before milking.  

They sprayed each other’s boots off before heading to the house for dinner.

They know the smell of each other’s sweat, can predict their next move… and have caught each other’s falls.

Through temper tantrums and tears, they will start each other’s stories and end each other’s sentences.

They have mended the fence line and walked every inch of their land together.

Sometimes they work in silence, sometimes they talk. And sometimes they yell at each other as the tractor gets pulled out of the mud.

There is an unspoken understanding of who drives and who walks, who carries the bag of grain, who opens the gate, who starts the rinse cycle, and who rakes the stalls.

It’s grueling. It’s comfortable. It’s painfully emotional.

They bring out the best in each other and certainly the worst.  

It’s laughing and crying… and having someone to “remember when” with.

For a lifetime, it’s working together every day.

And for better or for worse… it’s very special.

Good luck, Tyler, Jacob, and Samuel! I know that together, through thick and thin, you are magic… brothers.

With love,