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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Farmer Optimism

It’s a tough road at times, this life we live and the work we do.  But there is always something to be positive about and grateful for, even in the darkest of days.  I recently read that they say a farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer, and it’s absolutely true.

As a farmer’s daughter and farmer’s wife, I’ve been a part of a lot of optimistic rituals in my life—praying, positive attitude, rain dances hard life lessons and more praying. 

In the 1990s, I was devastated when we sold all of our pigs.  The market was bad and we had to invest and concentrate on other areas of the farm.  This was a lesson in economics at a young age, I guess you could say which has helped me in my adult life.

In the flood of 2008, when I watched my dad look out over our flooded fields I thought all hope was gone.  Then he took us home and said, “Mother Nature is not very kind sometimes, but there isn’t anything we can do about it.  It’s just part of it.  We are safe up here on the hill with good people, food and beer.  We will figure it out.”

In 2009, my dad died during harvest and my family still had to go on.  The local family farmers brought optimism back to our farm as they arrived with their trucks to fill up loads of grain to take to market.  That dark day turned out to be okay, even without him.    

In the drought of 2012, I experienced heartbreak on a daily basis when no rain would fall or heat lightening gave me false hope for a storm that I would have gladly welcomed.  I asked my husband if he wanted to do rain dances like I used to do when I was a kid.  I got “the look” if you know what I mean, but I danced a lot when he wasn’t watching.

And today, it’s the commodity markets.  Prices are down, inputs are high, there are too many regulatory and trade issues that farmers are dealing with, and it’s all a dark reality each day as we approach the planting season. 

For the farmer, planting and harvesting is inevitable.  No matter what Mother Nature will bring, how the markets will pan out or what obstacles God will lay before him, our farmers still have to wake up each day to face the day because there is no other way or another life they would rather live.
It’s really hard to explain to someone that doesn’t live on a farm that your daily life revolves around the ground below you, weather, market, crops, animals and the daily work around you.  It’s a constant worry and a constant blessing that I don’t take for granted because as dad would say, “it’s just part of it”.

There are so many people these days that lack optimism.  It’s not surprising with all the political rhetoric, daily negative stories on the news and more.  However, when I sit for just a moment and look around me, there is a lot to be optimistic about.  I hear the new calves bawling in the pasture behind our house—a sign of new life.  I see green, lots of green (finally!)—a sign of a new season.  And I am reminded of the positive things in my life—which bring me happiness and hope.  The optimism is there, we just have to slow down at times to see it and feel it.

I don’t know where or when I found this quote but it sits on my desk as a daily reminder, 
“The one who cultivates and lives always in the optimistic, cheerful, hopeful habit of mind and heart can never fail.”

As our farmers face a new season ahead cultivating the land and caring for the crops with little known to them about what Mother Nature may bring, how the markets will go or what the crop may look like, they will still try to find a way to remain optimistic.  They have to for their livelihoods, their families, future generations and for you. 

1 comment:

  1. Have you heard the music of Tim Grimm? He is a musician from Southern Indiana, and most of his songs seem to be about farming, the Midwest, the hard work, the seasons, our families, simplicity. Beautiful stuff--check it out!