What Makes a Farmer?

I was sitting in church when the preacher asked, “do we have any farmers here?” My hand shot up part way, then went down, then questionably slid back to half-mast. I didn’t know how to answer the question. It shouldn’t be a hard one. Either you’re a farmer or you are not, and yet it was extremely hard to answer.dsc_7287You see, I had lived on what I would call a small farm in rural North Carolina where we raised sheep, goats, chickens, donkeys, and pigs to show for 4-H. I lived there, doing daily farm chores, for the past 15 years. Then I got married and moved to Lincoln, Nebraska where I now live in an apartment with a cat. I had never contemplated the fact that I may no longer be a farmer because I didn’t live on a farm. That Sunday, though, it was painfully obvious that I was suddenly in an identity crisis.

I didn’t want to not be seen as a farmer, though. My heart was there…on the farm. Sure I didn’t live there or help with daily chores, but I still kept in the loop and helped make decisions. I still flew back home for livestock shows. Did my new address steal me of the title of farmer?

What makes a farmer, anyway?

Is it the clothes they wear? To be sure not. I’ve seen farmers run to the farm in their Sunday best (let me just say from personal experience, running through a pasture in heels isn’t easy). Is it the amount of land they have or the scale of their business? I recall how once, someone told me I couldn’t possibly be a farmer because I had a mere 10 acres compared to their thousands, and I didn’t know what it was like to farm full-time. Odd. I definitely felt like a full-time farmer working overtime when checking on lambs at 2 am or spending Saturdays helping to mend fences. To be honest, there really isn’t such a thing as a part-time farmer. It may not be your main income, but it is certainly a 24/7 job despite the scale of the farm.

So then, if it isn’t the clothes, or scale or success of the farm that makes a farmer, what is it? Do I still have to live ON the farm to be a farmer? I don’t know.

What I do know, is I have a heart of a farmer. I know that the qualities that make me, me, while greatly influenced by my parents (thanks mom and dad!), are just as profoundly influenced by the farm life. Those values and lessons I learned in the barn…those have impacted me so much.

Am I a farmer? Technically, no. Technically I’m a communication consultant for agriculture companies who teaches communication part-time as a college professor. Not everyone gets to be a farmer in life. You know, I’m okay with that. Actually, I’m more than okay with that. I love what I do. I love creating content, taking pictures and writing to help tell the stories of farmers who generally don’t like telling their life stories on the internet for everyone to see. I love teaching. I also love my family farm. I found my place. I connected my creative heart and rural roots into something that is me. I have learned that I don’t have to be a farmer to have a farmer’s heart.web'You better believe, though, that apartment living isn’t forever. This farmer’s heart will get back on a farm someday 😉

All roads lead back to the farm.dsc_3800

 

 

5 Reasons Why I Want to Tell Agriculture’s Story

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

~Maya Angelou

Once again, the new year is upon us. In a little over a week, I will be headed back to school, and 2014 will be a memory. A new year also means those dreaded resolutions. This year, though, I’m excited for my New Year’s resolution. It isn’t to start working out, although I probably should. This year, I’m launching this blog. My resolution is to use this blog to tell my story — not a story about the many papers in graduate school or life with three brothers, but my story about agriculture. It is something I am passionate about, but when I look around, I see the effects of a day and age where less than 2% of the population lives or works on a farm. It is more important than ever for agriculture’s story to be told. So, for five reasons, my New Year’s resolution is to share my passion for agriculture with the world:

1. Because I think it is beautiful:

milo

There is nothing quite like the sunset on a field of cropland, or a wobbly lamb walking for the first time that makes me want to whip my camera out at lightning speed. Agriculture is truly beautiful. Sure, there are ugly parts, but that’s part of life. Agriculture is truly a beautiful thing, and for me,  that is worth showing off.

2. So others don’t tell it for me: So many times pictures and words get twisted, and the damage is hard to undo. Instead of assuming that someone else will tell the public accurately what agriculture is all about, it is important that I tell my perspective. If I allow others to tell it, then the chances of incorrect information being told increases. I don’t want others putting words in my mouth. I’m much too opinionated to let that happen.

3. Consumers are curious and have a right to know: Consumers eat, wear and rely on the products that we produce. They give it to their kids and trust it is not just a quality product, but that it has been grown ethically. They trust us (we certainly hope), and it is my duty to tell them what is going on. Consumers often have never had the opportunity to step foot on a farm in their lives. They are curious about how it works. If our agriculture’s story isn’t told, they just get more curious, and may look in the wrong place. I owe it to them to show them just what lies beyond those barn doors. So, I welcome questions, and would love to give you a farm tour.

4. I’m passionate about ag: Farming is hard work. I’ve had mud and poop slung on me in places I really didn’t like. I’ve had countless blisters on my hands, a goat managed to give me a black eye, and there have been times I thought my fingers would fall off from the cold. Even still, I love it. I am passionate about the little lamb jumping around or the pigs that give me muddy kisses. I care about the impact agriculture has on the community and what it has to offer. If I didn’t find such joy in farm life, I wouldn’t do it.  Why else would I stay up till all hours of the night with an animal,

bottle

or brave all types of weather?

snow pig

What are those smiles about? Because we, not just me, but others are passionate about agriculture. My passion is my drive to tell the world what gives me joy.isaac

5. I live it: Day in and day out, my family and I feed the animals and care for them. With so much interaction, I think it is safe to say, that I know the farm better than an outsider and can tell that story better. Biographies are nice, but autobiographies are better. I can make it come alive in ways that no one else can because my family and I live it. We stare at in the face everyday.

kiss

So, those are my reasons. It is why I’m starting this blog. I truly believe that agriculture is a story worth being told. It is my passion, and therefore, I want it told right. I want the emotions I have for it to bleed through. I want the public to reach a better understanding of what exactly it takes to get from farm to table. I hope to allow people to see what I see. I think the agriculture I know should not be kept to myself and remain untold, which lands me here, on this blog.  It is definitely the most exciting New Year’s resolution I’ve ever had.

Happy New Years!

 

Capture