Polyface Week 11

Making Hay at Polyface

Believe it or not, I am half way through the internship already. Time flies when you’re having fun! In honor of the half way mark, I thought I’d share some life lessons that I’ve learned during my time here so far.

Just do it – experience is the best teacher.
This week I had the opportunity to take some time and practice a few basic skills. Daniel gave me a truck and trailer to back up. Eric let me practice my double stacking for a few hours on Saturday. Jonathan told me to switch the tractor bucket to the bale forks. Basically, they told me to do a task, take as long as needed, go slow and experiment a little. They know experience is the best teacher. Now that I have a basic understanding of tractors/machinery, it’s safe to let me take some time and put hours of practice under my belt. I am so thankful for leaders who are willing to risk us interns making mistakes in order to give us the time we need to learn new skills. After all, repetition is what builds mastery. So just do it. Jump in. Give it a shot. It’s the only way you’ll get any better at it.

Raking Hay at Polyface

If they have confidence in you, you should have confidence in yourself.
Daniel and Eric are starting to trust us interns with more and more responsibility. They have faith in me even when I don’t have faith in myself. On Friday, I met Daniel at one of the rental farms to learn how to rake hay. I watched him for a while, then I tried. After a few passes he said, “I really don’t see a need to stay. You’re doing great. Stop at the next turn and let me off.”

Okay…So I stopped, he gave some instruction and there I was with a powerful tractor, a wide hay rake and a couple fields to get done. No need to fear, I finished the fields without any major problems and really enjoyed growing this new skill.

After I finished up the raking, I gave Daniel a call. “Anything else you want me to do while I’m here?”

“Well, you could do some double stacking,” he replied.

“Sounds fun but slightly terrifying,” was my response. He gave me some instructions over the phone and then I was off on another tractor trying something new by myself (more on that later).

And that brings me to my point – great leaders believe in you so much that you can’t help but believe in yourself. If someone assign me to a task, that means they believe I’m competent enough to handle it. It’s my job to trust them. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask questions or let them know I’ve never done that particular task before. It does mean I should get instruction and then give it a shot. And most of the time, they’re right – I can do it.

Work while you work.
If you ask around, the other interns here will say that I’m “all business.” When there’s a job to do, I like to focus on the task at hand, work hard and do it right. I’m all for work being fun – as long as everything is still getting done. When the day is complete, I play (or relax) hard. This week I had the opportunity to enjoy some fun activities – like swimming, volleyball, movies and great conversations. It’s wonderful to spend some time relaxing and just having fun with the team. Balancing work and play is important. I love them both. Being here, I’ve noticed how important it is to be fully engaged in what you’re doing. If you’re working, pour yourself into it with utter abandon. If you’re playing, enjoy it to the fullest.

This brings to mind a poem my mom made me memorize as part of our homeschool curriculum. Although it’s been many years, the words have stuck with me and the principle has been ingrained in the way I live.

Work while you work,
play while you play.
This is the way to be happy each day.

All that you do,
do with your might.
Things done by halves are never done right.

Driving the Tractor at Polyface

Morning routines are important.
It’s interesting to see how my morning routine has evolved over the past few weeks. Before coming to Polyface, I’d wake up around 6:00, spend an hour or so journaling, studying God’s Word and eating breakfast and then head out to chores.

My first few weeks here, I slept as much as I possibly could. The alarm would go off at 5:35, I’d roll out of bed, go to the bathroom, throw on some clothes and start chores by 6:00. As the weeks have flown by, I realized how much I missed having my quiet time. So, a couple weeks ago, I started getting up at 5:15. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t leave much time. This week, I bumped it back to 5:00. It’s what I plan on sticking with. Yes, I sacrifice a little extra sleep. But starting my day by collecting my thoughts, praying and reading my bible has been 100% worth it. Do you have a morning routine?

When you make a mistake, bounce back.
I learned how to double stack large square bales this week. After the baler comes through, the big square bales are left in the field. That’s when the double stacker comes in. It’s the double stacker’s job to stack two bales on top of one another and group a few stacks together so that they are ready to stack on the trailer. Sounds simple. It’s easier said than done. I had successfully stacked one stack in a very slow gear and was moving toward the next bale. I needed to change gears, so I pushed in the clutch and instantly realized my mistake.

You see, I was heading down a hill and now the tractor was speeding down it and I couldn’t get it to stop. My current path was taking me towards a tree (no thank you!) so I swerved/skidded into a hay bale and came to a stop. The hill was very short, so the whole experience was probably only 4 seconds, but boy did it get the adrenaline pumping! I tend to be a cautious person, so for a moment I wondered how I should react. I decided to take a short moment to catch my breath, shake it off, learn from it (no more gear changing, clutch pushing moments on any sort of hill for me) and start stacking more bales.

The experience taught me a lot about bouncing back after making mistakes. I’ve had my share of mess-ups since coming here. I’ve discovered the best thing to do is acknowledge it and move on. I’ve always struggled with letting go of my failures, however, I can honestly say that over the past 2 ½ months I think I’ve gotten better at it. Hopefully that trend continues!

Double Stacking Hay Bales at Polyface

That’s just a scratch on the surface of what I’ve learned this summer. I’ve discovered many other great life lessons. I know that my time at Polyface has not only equipped me with new agricultural skills, but has also grown me as a person in many different ways. It’s my prayer that God will continue to stretch and mold me throughout the second half of the summer. I can’t wait to see what else I discover during my time here.

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