This was published with the Our Rural Roots column for Progressive Farmer magazine.
Recently, we were at a small family gathering. I looked over to find my four-year-old son, pants around his ankles, going potty in the yard. I rushed over to find out what in the actual world he was doing!
He responded, “Well, Mama, it’s just what farmers do.”
After I got over the embarrassment, I got to thinking about his statement and what things farmers just do.
Farmers help their neighbors. I was fortunate to grow up withneighbors really did feel like family. When my grandfather suddenly passed away when my dad was a teenager, it was our neighbors who stepped in to help get crops in the ground and to offer advice for decades afterwards. I can think back on my childhood and remember neighbors helping me collect rocks for my science project, never refusing to buy whatever I was selling for a fundraiser, and being my biggest cheerleaders at basketball games or stock shows.
Farmers give back to their communities. I cannot think of a single farmer I know who does not also give back to the community in some way. Some are members of the volunteer fire department, others volunteer to judge public speaking contests. Some coach pee wee basketball teams, and others can be found flipping burgers behind the school concession stand.
Farmers care for the environment and their animals. I learned a lot about respecting the environment from farmers. I can remember being a child standing in the field talking about conserving water and how best to care for our soil. I’ve seen grown men cry when, despite their best efforts, they’ve been unable to save a cow, a newborn lamb, or their favorite horse.
While I trust dropping Wranglers in public is something my boy will grow out of, I sure hope he learns and remembers so many of the other things that are just what farmers do.