You probably saw those words—soundtrack of the farm—and assumed that you were about to read a heartwarming piece about the sounds that occur on the farm: sounds like cows mooing and horses chewing hay and red-winged blackbirds singing their distinctive song.
But I have a different soundtrack to discuss today: the actual music that plays while we work on the farm.
In the barn, we have an Old Radio, which I've deliberately capitalized out of a sense of respect due to its advanced age. (The radio is older, I think, than some of my siblings.) For a decade or two, the radio dial was permanently set on a local country station that blissfully belted out Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney and Faith Hill, and we faithfully kept the dial set there until country music changed into its more modern form. When the station stopped playing Alan and Kenny and Faith, we quit listening.
So we moved the dial to an oldies station that promised to play the best of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, but before long they dropped the 50s and added the 80s. This pleased some of us and devastated others, and the subsequent fall-out has been the root of many barn music–related disagreements in recent years.
The friendly discord continues on the weekends, when bluegrass and polka fill the northern Wisconsin airwaves. Some of us favor bluegrass; others cherish the sound of a good polka, and as such, the radio dial bobbles back and forth on the weekends depending on who gets to the radio first and/or complains the most loudly.
Now, the Old Farm Truck is something else entirely. It's handily equipped with a CD player and a stack of CDs, and whichever CD happens to be in the player is a clue to who last used the truck. If you start up the truck and the voice of Johnny Cash floods the cab, it means my father was the last one to drive it. If Kathy Mattea's voice fills the air, my mother was the most recent occupant. Barbra Streisand and the Hello Dolly! soundtrack? My sister. Edvard Grieg's piano concertos? Another sister. Taylor Swift from 2006? Me.
And that, my friends, is the essence of the soundtrack of the farm. It's a medley of music that transcends genre and becomes, quite simply, the backdrop of our days. So whether it's bluegrass or polka or 50s or 80s or the Man in Black, the real soundtrack is the melody of family togetherness…even if we can't always agree on which melody we like best.