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Reasons to get out of bed

Curt Arens Dick Ourada sitting in the driver’s seat of his 1977 IHC 547 tractor
PROJECT AND PURPOSE: Dick Ourada sits in the driver’s seat of his 1977 IHC 547 tractor that he and his friends refurbished for the Ouradas’ two-month-long trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, to raise money for children’s medical research.
Projects and purpose are what drive us, no matter what age we are.

After my dad “retired” from farming full time because of health issues, he took on a lot of different jobs, including working the last 20 years of his life as a greeter at Walmart.

Through that time, although he was working at other jobs, he also made the daily trek — in spite of his work schedule — out to the farm to pitch in wherever he could. Sometimes, that meant operating the windrower or hauling grain in the field — even when, healthwise, he probably shouldn’t have been.

“You need a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” he would say. Although he wasn’t farming full time, he needed a project, chores, repairs or other side gigs to give him the drive to continue to live a full and eventful life, in spite of his health problems.

I always admired that attitude in him and hoped to emulate it one day, because I think that is what kept him going through thick and thin.

The daily trips out to the farm kept him connected with his land, allowed him to operate the old tractors he knew so well, and spoil the farm dogs and grandchildren every chance he got. The other side jobs offered a little income, but more importantly, connections with co-workers and friends he made along the way.

Tractor trip

I bring this up because I recently met Dick Ourada, a retired Venango, Neb., farmer who is driving a 1977 IHC 574 tractor with his wife, Carolee, from Imperial all the way to Fairbanks, Alaska, where the couple has a home and is building another home just outside of Fairbanks where they can see the Northern Lights.

Maintaining a “shouse,” or a shop and apartment in Holyoke, Colo., the Ouradas are busy people. When I visited them at Titan Machinery, the Case-IH dealership in Imperial where they started their journey in mid-July, Dick shared with me the challenges of getting this trip on the road.

They had been planning the journey for the past three years, which they are doing to raise money to benefit children’s medical research at Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, a charity in Denver that is near and dear to both of them.

But first, Dick had heart issues that had to be resolved. Next, COVID-19 was making the rounds. So, after all of this time, the dream of the trip continued. The planning continued. But it was when Dick started preparing the 574 tractor they had purchased for the adventure that things turned around for him.

When he first went into the shop to work on the tractor, Dick was still weak from his heart issues. But he told me that since the project took off, and partnerships were forged with Children’s Hospital and Case-IH dealerships all the way up to Alaska, his health improved. The anticipation and the excitement gave him that “reason to get out of bed in the morning.”

Friends that helped with the tractor project, who also shared some health issues, told Dick they were feeling great too. Who knew that a 45-year-old tractor could breathe new life and offer new zeal for life?

For the health of it

I believe that having these projects that we are passionate about serve a true purpose, not only the obvious results from those projects, but also in boosting our health, no matter what our age is. My dad knew this, and Dick obviously knows it as well.

Whether it is farming full time, working at a new career, a hobby, a charitable venture, a church or school duty, a real adventure or trip, or spoiling grandchildren, that reason for getting out of bed every morning, no matter what age we are, should not be underestimated.

We talk a lot about the mental health of farmers for good reason. Having projects and purpose, along with our regular farming operation, could be a key component to maintaining that healthy balance in our lives.

TAGS: Farm Life
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