When I left my corporate job and moved to rural Kansas, I was making decisions for the good of my future family. Sometimes those decision are at odds with my self-desires. We don’t have a fancy house, high-speed internet or many of the creature comforts one finds in bigger cities.
Through the recent weeks of turmoil, my sense of irony keeps touting the rewards of this country life. I never feel cooped up because I can walk for a mile in any direction and not be in danger of encountering neighbors. Eating fewer meals out of the house has inspired me to put a dent in my “war chest” (freezer) of home-raised beef. My years of dealing with less than ideal internet has given me a sense of Zen when increased traffic causes frustrating hang-ups for everyone else working from home too.
Honestly, the thing I am most grateful for in this time of crisis is the sense of solid, constant purpose our farm-centered life. I have friends who are climbing the walls because they feel lost and purposeless with their worlds on hold. Others are completely overwhelmed shouldering new burdens and doing their best to make it through this storm. In perspective of all that is happening in the world, farmers’ lives remain largely the same.
Spring is a busy time on the farm. We are planting crops, spraying fields, working cattle and other livestock, prepping equipment for summer harvest or irrigation and ramping up for the “busy season.” Even though much of the rest of the world is on hold, farms are the original essential industry: feeding the world.
Recently, I was asked to provide some insight into how farmers would make the decision on whether to plant crops this year. It was a logical question to a nonfarmer, but I was flummoxed. I had never really thought of it as a choice before.
Farmer are smart, logical people. Every day they use their knowledge of many subjects like plant physiology, animal nutrition, accounting and economics to name a few to maximize their potential yields and hedge against current market conditions. The one place farmers may not use logic is in career choice.
The decision to farm often comes back to the solid, constant purpose of feeding others. A purpose that is sweetened by everyday moments validating the choice. A feeling of wonder in seeing newborn calve on shaky legs and seeking out its mother to nurse. A silent cheer of excitement for newly planted crops as they break through the ground. Laughter at the site of calves playing “reindeer games.” The sigh of relief when raindrops finally fall after days of having “the feeling in your bones.” The cordial sight of fields of wheat waving with all their might. The sense of purpose that comes from every truck leaving your farm going off to feed the world.
So even in uncertain times, farmers forget logic and plant a crop or buy cattle and they tell themselves prices will go up, the weather will cooperate, everything will work out. Farmers have an almost eternal sense of hope that the future will be better.
During this unprecedented time of challenge, I encourage everyone to think like a farmer. Here is to hoping prices will go up, the weather will cooperate and everything will work out.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.