I am having a midlife crisis or at least that’s what my family keeps telling me. I disagree with them but I did do something often associated with 40-plus-year-old men attempting to relive their youth. After decades of driving ATVs around our farm to move cattle in the pastures or to run and check a field’s conditions, I bought a motorcycle instead of another ATV. The decision to cut the number of wheels from four down to two was partially because my kids wanted a dirt bike, and also my dad and I wanted a dirt bike. It seemed like if everyone wants a motorcycle, and we need a new thing to drive about anyway, we might as well get one. It didn’t hurt that the price for a brand new Yamaha TW200 motorcycle is half the price of an ATV. I’m always up for spending a bit less money.
What I didn’t realize when I started the search for a sturdy motorcycle for the farm was how much I would enjoy riding it. We hadn’t had a motorcycle at the farm since I briefly owned one when I was a teenager. I liked riding the new bike around the farm so much I went to the DMV to get a motorcycle permit so I could legally ride on the county roads as well as the field roads. I hadn’t taken a test at the DMV since I was 15 but not much has changed, surprisingly. With a freshly printed sheet of paper from the DMV folded up and jammed in my wallet I was ready to hit the roads. Not to head off to Sturgis – if you Google what a TW200 looks like you’ll see why – but to move our beef cattle and heifers on a pasture we rent by New Prague, Minnesota. Turns out, I had unknowingly become part of a community much like the agricultural community.
Riding that motorcycle to move cattle and check hay fields I got waves from all the other people out riding their fancy Harleys and Hondas on a sunny afternoon. People I didn’t know would come talk with me about how cool my funny looking fat tired dirt bike was at the gas station in town when I’d stop for a Snickers. I realized quickly that when you ride a motorcycle you become instantly part of the motorcycling community even if you don’t have a fancy vest with a bunch of patches and a nickname like BlackJack.  
The other night I had to run to Wal-Mart after milking for some whipping cream so the local ECFE kids could make butter when they toured our farm. Of course, I took the motorcycle because it was a nice evening and there are only so many of those left before fall takes a turn toward winter. While I was searching for the last couple cartons of whipping cream in the oddly empty dairy case, a man on one of those motorized shopping carts was trying to get a gallon of chocolate milk out so I held the door open for him. Turns out he recently lost his leg for reasons I didn’t inquire about making the motorized cart an annoying necessity for him. I know this because he noticed I was wearing an armored jacket for motorcycling and after thanking me for holding the door for him we had a nice conversation about motorcycles and life in general. He had to sell his Harley when he lost his leg but he bought a Yamaha scooter so he can keep riding a motorcycle even with prosthetic legs. I think I’ve stumbled into a group of people as passionate about their lifestyle as farmers are.
Sometimes in agriculture we get hung up on who’s a real farmer. In a community as small as ours I’m not sure there’s much reason to be picky about who’s part of the crowd. Let’s all make sure to give a farmer wave to every tractor and grain truck we pass and compliment random folks on their chore boots or free seed hat because you might just be making a new farmer feel welcome in the agricultural community. Until next time, keep living the dream, and to quote Freddie Mercury, “Get on your bikes and ride!” I think he was referring to pedal bicycles but you know what I mean.
Tim Zweber farms with his wife Emily, their three children and his parents Jon and Lisa by Elko, Minnesota.