Every December, going back 20 years or more, I have attended an annual event conducted by my local Extension service called their Corn and Soybean Clinic.
Its purpose is to talk a little about the past crop year and give their latest information on what is ahead for the upcoming year. It is always interesting as it covers weather, markets, and growing conditions.
One of the side benefits is that I see many of my friends there, people who I may not see other times of the year as they live scattered across the county.
When I think back to the first ones I attended, I can see many of the faces there of farmers who were contemporaries of my dad. They were the old-timers to me, people who had farmed ever since I could remember.
They had kids in 4-H who were now grown, and they were the establishment. When things happened in the county, they were the ones who pitched in and made it a success.
Just as importantly, they were the ones who had a friendly smile for me and a warm greeting during those coffee breaks and the noon meal.
As far as I was concerned, I was trying to learn what they already knew.
Those meetings I first attended would fill the church’s basement to over-flowing with latecomers sitting on chairs alongside the wall to make room for everyone.
Today, the church basement has more than enough room, frequently with unused chairs at empty tables.
Over the years I saw those same faces no longer attending because they had retired from farming and for most of them, their names have appeared in obituaries in the local newspaper.
When I look around at meetings of a year or two ago and see someone I know who is older than me in attendance, I am looking at a gray-haired, probably balding man, and I wonder why that old guy is here.
I now find myself in the position of being one of the old-timers attending those meetings. I have become one of those farmers from long ago that I respected and admired because they had so much of life’s experiences behind them.
So the logical question is have I learned what I believed those old-timers already knew those many years ago?
I cannot say definitively I know what they knew because I am not sure exactly what they knew.
What I can say is that years and years of experiences have given me a lot in the way of wisdom and appreciation for what I believe is important. I am better prepared to size up a situation and make a decision that is a good one.
There will probably be someone at this week’s meeting who will look at me and think, “Is that guy still coming here after all these years?”
Yes, I am still attending those meetings. I am like that old tractor that is probably not as useful as it used to be. The newer ones have more power and are flashier while my faded paint and dents are showing.
I am more rooted in the past than the future and I am comfortable with that. That may be what those older farmers I looked at many years ago already knew.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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