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KAREN SCHWALLER

By Staff | Sep 8, 2011

It was with great interest that I recently accepted a rare invitation from my husband to get away from all of the pressures of the farm, and to accompany him on that said day away.

I should preface this with the fact that over the years I have learned to stop accepting invitations blindly, as I have found myself agreeing to attend things that could have the same effect as anesthesia – only more painful. But those were in the days before I understood the true and deep roots that lie at the heart of a farmer.

I realize that, for most farm wives who work alongside their husbands, a day away might mean spending the day doing something completely different – like high culture, or catching swamp alligators. But if you’re us, a day away from the farm means just that; even though it’s still a day that centers around agriculture.

My husband and I attended the Sci-Max Learning Seminar in Des Moines this summer, along with many whom we have become friends with as part of the Sci-Max group through our local elevator.

And even though my female counterparts, I almost feel like I can’t say that in a family paper, tended to hit the stores while their farmer guys honed their ag learning skills, I chose to stay and hang out at the seminar for awhile.

There were interesting speakers telling us all sorts of things about marketing and ag economics, plant nutrients and cutting edge technology being developed.

But maybe because I am of the female status, I tended to be most intrigued by our very first activity – introductions.

There were people from across Iowa and Minnesota, with one thing bonding us all – we farm. There was a diversity in ages, from facial lines and gray hair, to fresh, young faces.

We watched a PowerPoint that made us all swell with pride upon our chosen vocation. After all, farming is not just something we do, it’s a way of life that we choose. You cannot be a farmer and not truly live what you do. It just doesn’t work that way.

Then the introductions came. We were asked to state one concern we had about our operation or about agriculture in general. Oh, people joked here and there about their concerns, but those concerns are real.

These included cash rent, and how much was too much; weed control; drainage; figuring out the crazy markets; managing risk factors; struggling through the management of a spraying accident; and then came the one that really spoke to me – how to get the next generation integrated into the family farming operation.

Farm kids either love it or want nothing to do with farming.

At the Schwallers, we have a couple of sons embarking on this new challenge and testing the waters of financial and risk management. Our daughter is also pursuing an agronomy degree.

These days I sit at the family supper table, and listen and chew.

The ag conversation between my husband and children carries us through the meals without any discussion about the job I do everyday. But that’s OK. Farming truly is larger than life, and I know it.

For a room full of men to open up and state those concerns that are closest to their hearts, we were reminded that we are all in this special calling together.

Farming is not what we do, it’s who we are. And farmers today carry a lot of concern as they work the land, raise their livestock and their families, and think about who will be our nation’s next generation of farmers.

For something so important to the world, I pray that everyone who wants to will get their chance to farm their little corner of the world, getting their chance to make the same difference that their farmer dads (and moms) are making.

We’re all in this together.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at kschwaller@evertek.net

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