Why do I farm? Believe me, I have asked
myself that questions hundreds of thousands of times over my lifetime of
farming. In addition to the usual setbacks all farmers endure, a near-fatal
automobile accident left me permanently handicapped, which sometimes makes even
routine farm chores very difficult for me. So why do I continue to farm?
Certainly not for the income, because I don't believe a small operator like me
can earn a living solely by farming any more. I've always said that farming was
the only business I know where the operator has to buy all his equipment and
supplies at retail, sell his products at wholesale, and still try to make a
profit. So, I've dug deep down into the most private places of my heart, and
although I'm "just an old farmer" who's not very good with words, I
will try to express and share with you some of the reasons why I still farm -
reasons that only another farmer will understand.
love seeing the sun, fiery orange in a cloudless pink dawn, peeping over the
horizon far beyond the end of my fields. I love hearing the birds and our big
red rooster as they celebrate the coming of the new day with their unique
version of "The Awakening Chorus".
love the smell of the rich, chocolate earth as it is turned after a winter's
rest. I love the feel of warm, moist, fertile soil between my fingers, vibrant
with the life it gives to the seed I entrust to its care. I relish the feel of
soft raindrops on my face after a hot, dry spell, as they cool the air, the
earth, and me. I see the long furrows filled with crops I have planted and
nurtured, and I am humbled by the knowledge that insignificant me played a small
part in the greenness that grows there. I love knowing that somewhere, somehow,
I have helped to feed our nation's hungry.
I love being in tune with Mother Nature,
knowing where the farm fowl nested this year, counting the eggs as I ride by on
my tractor, and watching them hatch and grow into miniatures of their parents. I
love the quiet stillness of midnight, with only the twinkling stars above to
keep me company as I assist in an untimely and difficult birth. I love the
unspoiled innocence of newborn calves as they struggle to collect their wobbly
legs beneath them and stand to nurse. I love the smell of their "milk
breath". I love the music of the mama cows as they "hum" to their
newborns, and the tenderness in their eyes as they welcome their newest
offspring. I revel in the sight of our young lambs bucking and cavorting in the
crisp, cool spring mornings, high held tails waving an invitation to all their
playmates to join in the game. I love the sight of frosty breaths in the air,
and the sound of a hundred voices telling me they're glad to see me. I love the
gentle "Thank You" I see in all my animals' eyes as I feed them and
provide for their needs.
I love the feeling of self-sufficiency and
accomplishment that comes with a full grain bin, wrapped rolls of hay waiting by
the fence rows, a pantry full of colorful jars of home-raised fruits and
vegetables, and a freezer full of meat from our livestock. I love the taste of
scrambled eggs that I know came from our hens that we raised from our chickens,
and fed with our grain.
I love going to work every day in God's
sanctuary, unhampered by fancy clothes or rigid schedules. I love the solitude
and personal time that farming provides; time to collect and sort out my
thoughts, time to make plans, and time to talk to my Creator and thank Him for
granting me the privilege of being a farmer.
I farm for my children, so they may
experience this enriching lifestyle that I so cherish, as did my parents, and
their parents - a lifestyle that is quickly vanishing. I farm to teach them to
embrace Mother Nature, to learn all she has to offer, and to respect all living
things. I farm to teach them the value of our natural resources, and why we must
protect and preserve them. I farm hoping that one day my children will feel as I
do, that a farm life is the most precious and priceless legacy parents can leave
their children. I further hope that my children will somehow find a way in our
rapidly changing world to preserve this way of life and pass it on to their
children, and their children, so that it will not be forgotten. For if they can
keep it alive, they will be truly blessed, as I have been, and a part of me will
always be with them.
I farm for myself. I farm to satisfy a
yearning deep inside me that is more than just a desire - it is a burning hunger
that cannot be satisfied by any other means; a longing to be a part of the earth
and creation; of life, and death. I farm to fulfill my personal need to make
some small contribution to mankind and the preservation of our world. Farming is
my tranquilizer - what could be more relaxing than a soft summer breeze playing
through your hair as you cultivate a field? It is my physical therapist - stiff
muscles relax and aches and pains disappear after a couple of hours of farm
work. It is my greatest teacher - in addition to management, conservation, and
accounting skills farming has taught me patience, perseverance, humbleness,
self-respect, and courage. It is my inspiration - the thought that, God willing,
there will be another day, another year, another season, another planting,
another harvest - this is what keeps my broken and weary body going. Farming has
given me a deep appreciation for things others take for granted - rain,
sunshine, food - and most importantly, life itself. Farming is a part of me and
I cannot separate myself from it, it's in my blood, my heart, and my very soul.
Asking me why I farm is like asking me why I breathe - I can't live without it.