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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Curiosity and Understanding

We survived our first holiday season with our little girl – the first where we celebrated her life and the sparkle in her eyes when she saw the tree.  According to our daughter, “Jingle Bells” is the best song ever written and she might be one of those people that listen to Christmas music year-round (which her father will be thrilled about).

After watching her grow and develop these past six months, her curiosity is quite entertaining.  
Can you imagine how strange the world looks through a baby’s eyes?  They don’t fully understand the concept of life or death, heartbreak and heartache or the good, bad and ugly of it all.  They see shiny things and become entranced.  They slowly start to recognize you and embrace what is familiar.  But honestly, some things have to seem so strange and odd to them.

I feel that way a lot when I have conversations with people about our farm.  I’ve recently spent time with a lot of people who do not live in the country or have the slightest concept of what it is like living on a farm or working in agriculture. 

At a recent girls’ night, where I only knew a few of the women, my friend said my husband was a farmer and you would have thought I lived in 1950.  The curious looks and number of head tilts I saw were quite entertaining.  Then, while opening gifts, she told everyone that I had brought her meat from our farm, again the looks and the tilts.  One of the women looked at me with a strange glare and said, “I could never raise an animal and then send it off to market I just couldn’t.  And then eat it – never.”  Well, I can and I do.

Here’s the thing, I understand that you don’t understand and that you can’t.  But why can’t you understand that I can and that I do?  I don’t know how I’m surprised by it anymore, but it seems strange to me that people don’t understand that farmers and farming still exist and that people still live on farms.  We are just as normal as you but we have a greater fortune than you, or so I think.  We have been blessed with the opportunity to live on the land while raising a family, running a business, making a living and caring for the land for generations to come.  Farming is a huge responsibility that we don’t take lightly and that others would find to be a burden.

And yes, we get upset when our favorite animals pass away or go to market.  But we understand that life and death, heartbreak and heartache and the good, bad and ugly of farming are part of it.  I appreciate your curiosity and encourage you to have a conversation with me or another farmer.  I almost feel relieved when people ask me questions because they do genuinely want to know about our farm.

My daughter’s eyes sparkle when she sees the cows and she becomes entranced with their sounds and movement – I hope it stays that way.  She will recognize that we care for the cattle on our farm but that they are a part of our business.  She will also become familiar with the smell of cow manure and embrace it.  My daughter will understand that chocolate milk doesn’t come from brown cows and all food doesn’t come from the grocery store.  And at this rate, I’m guessing her first 4-H pig will be named Jingle Bells.  She will be given opportunities on our farm and off the farm, and whichever path she chooses I hope she stays curious and seeks to understand others while educating them about our way of life on the farm.  In the new year, I hope you genuinely become curious and understanding of what you don’t know and then maybe the world won’t look so strange.