So, you want to be in animal agriculture? You get to be your own boss, but the pay is lousy. Still the life is generally good. Weeks like this past one makes us reconsider our choices in vocation and, at times, our ability to make sane, rational decisions.
Yes, the past two weeks have brought us record- or near-record-low temperatures and snowfall. Conditions have been miserable to dangerous, but we knew what we signed up for to live this life. While we may not always like our jobs, we still love what we do. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that and show others how much we care.
To say it has been a grind would be an understatement. I do not know about you, but I found it hard to go out every morning, and each day felt kind of the same with no end in sight. It was tough and hard. I would dare say none of us enjoyed the past two weeks, but you know what? Not one of us called in sick. We did not take any days off because of the inclement weather, and none of us stayed inside where it was warm and safe. Most of the rest of the world would ask one question — why?
Because that is what we do, that is who we are, and our livestock take priority over our own comfort, sometimes even our personal safety. I know each and every one of us have felt that the compulsion to not only do our jobs but go above and beyond what was needed to ensure the well-being of the animals entrusted to our care. We went out in the dark and cold, in the face of the howling wind and biting air to make sure our livestock had the best of care. We used extra resources, pushed machinery to the brink and ran ourselves ragged because of that nagging, gnawing need at our core to take care of the animals dependent on us.
While all of this was happening, our customers probably did not think twice about our work. Shame on us, we need to make sure our consumers know how much we care for the animals we raise. They need to know about the sacrifices and the hardships farmers and ranchers go through in extreme weather to ensure the health and safety of livestock. We just do not do a better job telling our story.
I know we are busy trying to get things done, and we do not take the extra step of sharing all we do. I get it, and I am guilty of not sharing enough, too.
Telling our story is especially important when times are toughest. No one else is going to. In fact, there’s plenty of groups eager to misrepresent the hard work we do caring for our animals because we’re not telling our story.
We are the best kept secret in animal care, and that’s a shame. While we may not like making the extra effort to talk about our work, I believe it is worth showing everyone the love and care we have for our profession.
“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.