This message is about farmers. I am currently in Washington, while Dan is hunting in Colorado, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to put in a good word about farmers and ranchers.
First, here is the difference between a farmer and a rancher…a farmer grows crops and may or may not have livestock, meaning most farmers raise cattle too, but a few do not. A rancher is someone who just has livestock and buys the feed from farmers to sustain the livestock. So, basically, farmers are the bread and butter of America and also grow surplus to send overseas to the world trade market.
Growing up a city girl I ventured as far as my local grocery store to pick up all the produce and meat I needed. I’d pick over the strawberries boxes to find the one I thought was the best without a thought to the farm workers straining their backs to pick them. When I was older and had grandkids it was an adventure to go berry picking for what ended up being about 30 minutes and I was done. And what about those balls of cotton we women use to remove makeup or nail polish. Yes, those are cotton fields.
Everything we consume, and some things we don’t come at the sweat and work of some of the hardest working people you will ever meet. I never truly understood this lifestyle until I married a farm boy, because my life was built on conveniences. Wow, my perception has changed. Dan grew up farming and was driving farm equipment almost as soon as he was out of diapers. Every morning he was up just before dawn, did farm chores, went to school, came home for more chores, ate dinner, then worked at the evening chores until he was sent to bed…tired and physically tapped. Then he got up and did it all again the next day. That is life as a farmer. When school was out for the summer that just meant they worked the fields and livestock all day. When we are in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) we spend time with people that he knows that still live this tough life. Why? Why would anyone choose such a hard way to make a living? The answer is simple – us. That’s right, for you and me. So when we go to the store we can choose a pound of hamburger for dinner, a dozen eggs for breakfast or baking, a loaf of bread for sandwiches, as well as great vegetables and fruits to satisfy our desires and not get our hands dirty doing it. We don’t have to wipe the sweat from our brow, push away a big heifer before she pushes you up against that barn door. There are silos to hold grain and silage to feed all cattle. Everything has a purpose and nothing is wasted.
I know we are all hard workers in whatever field we chose. And if our children are being taught responsibility by their parents I sure they have household or yard chores they are responsible for, at least I hope. But all the years of my career, I let it go at the end of the day…sure I had kids and a house to manage, but farming is 24/7…no sleeping in on Saturday or Sunday. And a farmers’ life isn’t only gaged by who they have to work the farm or the equipment they own or wish they owned to get the job done, they are also governed by the weather. Last year we witnessed flooding conditions in the UP that likely destroyed fields of potatoes, for instance. In some areas that get rain, farmers prefer to let Mother Nature supply the rain for growth, but when she’s dumping on them it can be too much.
Over the years of talking to Dan, and others about farming and ranching my appreciation has grown tenfold. I love watching a side rake that wind-rows the hay while the bailer follows behind making neat rounds. It’s all fascinating and important at the same time.
I just wanted to share this life with you so you too could smile when you pick up that head of lettuce, or steaks for the grill, or even compare apples to oranges.
I hope if you ever get a chance to meet a farmer or rancher that you will take time to thank him or her…heck, just go ahead and give them a hug while you’re at it. Let them know that you would starve without them and you are grateful for the hard work they do.
Thank you to all the farmers, ranchers, and hired workers that keep the people of this great country feed…you are the best.