I’ve always grown up out in the country, on what a younger me jokingly referred to as “the remnants of a once great farm” and for me, that’s how I saw it. My family has always lived on the same property, a little over one football field length away from my grandma’s house, in the middle of what was once a pretty decently sized diversified farm involving crops, cattle, and mostly hogs. However, by the time I came along, we had long since stopped farming the land ourselves and Grandma had begun renting it out to our neighbors. The only thing we kept for a very long time was horses, and it wasn’t until I was
almost done with high school that we got four cows for my sister and I to raise as an SAE project.
For my dad growing up, it was expected to help out on the family farm, but that changed on July 4th, 1979 when his dad, my Grandpa John, passed away in a farming accident. After that Dad really tried to help out and act like he wanted to run the farm for the rest of his life, but my Grandma could tell his heart wasn’t in it and told him that he should do what he really enjoyed. Dad spent the next thirtyish years doing just that, all while helping Mom to raise three little maniacs.
Eventually, those three little maniacs started to grow up and started to take an interest in agriculture. While some of the more ridiculous requests probably made Dad role his eyes, when he could tell we were actually serious about something he would take the time to talk with us about it and make sure we really understood all that would have to go into these decisions. He was always very clear on the fact that he would help, but that we were the ones with the ideas so we had to be involved or it would be over. And help Dad definitely did, I don’t know what would have happened to our cows in the first six months if it hadn’t been for Dad taking entire days to check fence lines with us, show us how to ACTUALLY work cattle, and bring home truck fulls of feed bags after work.
I know that there are days that Dad probably wished we didn’t have cows to take care of, but I’m so glad we do and he’s helped us out. I’ve learned so much from having our cows about agriculture, the cattle industry, the work that has to be put in, and just how nice a shower can feel after spending a summer day out working with the cows. Even though my sister and I are both off at college now we’ve still kept the cows and Dad has to do a large chunk of the work he knows that when we are home we aren’t going to shy away from going out into the field, if anything we’re going to fight over who’s going to drive the tractor and put out a new bale of hay. I’ve even heard my Mom talk about getting MORE cows since my little brother is starting to get older so fingers crossed!
Dad allowing for, talking about, and fostering this interest in agriculture had definitely influenced the decisions I’ve made about where I want to go with my life. He’ll roll his eyes at this most likely, but I really want to build up the family run part of the farm again, maybe nowhere near what it was or maybe something bigger in a completely different direction, but farming none the less. I don’t know when or if it would ever be a full-time career but there’s something about raising these animals and being involved in the production of an international necessity that just makes you realize how insignificant and majorly important you can be and that’s an amazing feeling. It’s my pipe dream, and future blog post, to run my own diversified farm that also serves as a way to spread more hands on information about where our food comes from and if it weren’t for this small taste of farming I’ve already gotten I don’t know that I ever would have come up with it.
To the man that walked away from farming and came back because of some obnoxious munchkins, Thank You, if it weren’t for you and all the lessons I’ve learned from your words, actions, and sometimes silence I wouldn’t be where I am today preparing to do something I love but probably would not have discovered otherwise. I might not always show it but I love you and I really do appreciate everything you’ve done for me.
“I think that if you were raised on a farm, you were born with dirt in your shoes. And once you get dirt in your shoes, you can’t ever get it out.” -Mark Thomas