The farmer’s daughter
There are a lot of people who the farmer deals with from day to day and week to week.
There are the delivery people who bring fuel and feed inputs, seed sales people, cement truck drivers, agronomists and even the occasional religion salesman who doesn’t happen to catch The Mrs. at home.
Once my husband even took care of a frozen food salesman who stopped by our place, and during the conversation, told my husband all about how bad pork was for people to eat, and how he should take advantage of the sale he was having on all of his chicken items.
It was the last time he ever stopped at our place, which was bulging with swine at the time.
But of all the people stop at the farmer’s gate, there are probably none more important than the farmer’s neighbor.
Neighbors are a special kind of people if you allow them to be. Having a neighbor means being a neighbor, even if it means wiping the sweat from your brow now and then to help them out. Since the invention of the farmer, I don’t know what farmers would do without their neighbors.
Neighbors are there lending a helping hand when you pour cement or load livestock. They go with you to farm shows, and they even help you out of a bind when you find yourself in one – even if it means they need to drop what they’re doing to come and help you. And vice versa. How would combining bees work without neighbors?
Neighbors are great sounding boards when ag issues make the farmer angry; probably because the neighbors are angry about the same issues.
They are great listeners and friends when things go wrong. And in the end, they can be some of the most special people there are in the life of a farmer, because often times those people are asked to carry their neighbor to their final resting place after the last crop has been harvested.
Yes, there’s just something about neighbors.
Recently our sons’ cows got out while we were gone to a Sioux Falls hospital. There was nothing we could do about it but depend on the help of our neighbor who came to let our daughter know that the cows were out in the first place.
Together, they got the cows rounded up and worked on fixing the place where they got out. Peace of mind prevailed not only in getting the cows back in the pen, but in knowing that someone cared enough to step in and help out when we needed the help. The words “thank you” seem so inadequate sometimes.
And then there are the times of crisis.
We had a tough time at our farm last year with an incident that took place. And after it happened, the first people who showed up were the neighbors, hanging their heads with us, listening to our story, and doing what they could to help us through it.
There was nothing anyone could do about what had happened, but the neighbors, all in different ways, came together to help us out in ways in which only they could help.
They empathized and understood the magnitude of the situation. At a time like that, the emotional and moral support of good friends and neighbors means more than anything. And we don’t know what we would have done without them.
I was visiting recently with an old friend, and we got to talking about how people don’t “neighbor” as much anymore. He told the story of a high school girl who was interviewed for a county fair queen contest. One question she was asked was about how the internet and communications have changed the world.
The young lady replied that the worst invention she could think of was the garage door opener, reasoning that when people used to have to get out of their vehicles to open the garage door, they might see their neighbor and strike up a conversation. This could happen twice a day, as people left for, and returned from, work. She said people would get to know their neighbors more if they still had to do that.
What amazing insight.
The next time you see two pickups stopped on a gravel road facing opposite directions, you know it’s two farmers comparing prices and techniques, catching up on each other’s lives – and strengthening those ties that bind neighbors.
God asked Cain where Abel was after Cain had killed him in a fit of jealously. He replied, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9b)
In (especially) the case of neighbors, I think God would say “yes, we are.”
And the neighbor becomes yet another gift from the hand of the living God, Who knows more about what we need than we do ourselves.
Isn’t it awesome?
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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