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This Week

Telling Your Story
by Bev Berens

Published: Friday, August 3, 2018

A lot of things happened this week in agriculture.

It's old news by now that the USDA rolled out $12 billion in federal assistance to the farm and ranch community to offset price disruptions caused by tariffs and trade issues.

The day after the announcement, the U.S. and the EU mended some fences on trading issues, agreed to talk things through instead of tariffs and retaliation. In the end, the EU agreed to buy more soybeans from the U.S. and business will soon be underway.

County fair season is in high gear. If the local fair isn't happening now, there is sure to be one going on within driving distance. You can get an early start on fixing the craving for a corn dog, elephant ear or fry cake. It's the season where memories are made, a season's project work concludes, and many kids make a trip to the bank with another down payment on college tuition, a vehicle, next year's project, or some other investment. It's the week parents both dread and love the most. The week that pride in their children's efforts tumbles from their eyeballs. It is the most exhausting, tiring, cranky-kid week of the year for parents of the fair children.

Rain. We had rain. At least we had rain in southwest Michigan. I hope you had rain, too. We had nearly two inches spread over the course of a weekend. It was a glorious weekend.

Our son stood by his best friend who got married this weekend. The nuptials were supposed to take place outside, but it was raining. This created a huge last-minute hysteria, followed by eventual calm and acceptance, and a last-minute venue switch to the family's church. The reception took place under a giant tent at the family farm as planned where the bride and groom danced their first dance and spent the remainder of the evening wearing Muck boots. It will be a wedding no one soon forgets!

In other big news, there was a milestone at the Berens' home, too. It was a milestone three- decades in the making. Yes, Mr. Berens and I have been married for 30 years—more than half of our lives. Where did that time slip to? I'm not sure, but I've got gray hair and grown children to prove that time did not stand still.

Usually our anniversary is celebrated with a high-five and dinner out somewhere slightly better than the local diner. This year we are planning (and using the word planning carefully; as you know, conditions can change quickly when you own livestock or are trying to string together hay drying days).

Thirty years IS a long time, but 40, 50 and more years are even longer. And knowing people with that kind of marriage longevity is common in the circle of people we know. Therefore, I was a little surprised at how many people congratulated us on such an enormous accomplishment—heavy on enormous. Sure, it's a big deal, but it's not like we cured cancer. We just decided that we really would stick it out through thick and thin, better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health. And believe me, there's been more thin, worse and poorer than I care to recall. And the past few years have shown us what the sickness portion of those vows mean, too.

What is the secret to marriage longevity? Aside from faith and commitment, I'd say sense of humor would be high on the priority list. If you can't laugh, and laugh often, you are going to be in big trouble.

So here is to marriage longevity. If you are married, may you possess the guts, grit and determination to last. May you be blessed to call each other friend as well as spouse, and may your lives be blessed with laughter.

Happy anniversary, Mr. Berens!

Bev Berens is a freelance writer and FFA parent from Holland, Mich. She can be contacted at

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