In one of his lesser romantic notions, my husband recently asked me to accompany him to Des Moines to a day-long seminar on what’s coming down the pike in agriculture today.
If you hadn’t known it before, now you can see that we’ve been married awhile. Having married a former FFA chapter president, I guess I should not expect any more in the ways of romance. Not that much has changed, really.
Thirty years ago he would ask me to accompany him to the farrowing house to help scrape it out or to the barn to load pigs. I guess in a way I’ve moved up the ladder, if only slightly – coming back from a day together not smelling like something I had to scrape or power wash.
It would have been all the same if we had gone to hear politicians speak that day.
I know that for most ladies, a trip to the capital city might sound pretty inviting, but going to an all-day seminar on what’s going down in farming today? Please.
But for a farm wife who has come through a couple of serious farm crisis years with her husband, I felt like my time was better spent beside him, learning about the things he was there to learn about as well. Gloria Steinem would have been so ashamed.
While I didn’t soak in all of the specifics that he did, I was intrigued by one of the things the group did while they were there. Partway into the day, the leader held up a book of blank pages and asked that each farmer in the room write some kind of advice they would give to today’s FFA members.
It was a stellar idea, and I couldn’t wait for the book to come around to us, to see what other farmers had to say to their much younger counterparts in agriculture.
Here is a sampling of what we read as we thought of what we would say to those FFA kids:
“Practice having positive outcomes in your life. Expectations influence outcomes.”
“Farming is a way of life (and) a business. Manage your farm like a business.”
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
“Over the years Grandpa and Dad always expected us to know certain things about farming. This is a good thing because if you are expected to know something, you will learn it.”
“It’s never too late to come back and pursue your dream.”
“Adopt new technology early.”
“Take care of the land and it will take care of you. It is a privilege to be a steward of the land. Let’s be faithful stewards and pass it on to the next generation.”
“Business goes where it is invited and stays where it is served.”
“Try again next year.”
“Learn from your mistakes and improve.”
“To grow 300 bushel corn, we have to think 300 bushel corn.”
“God and hard work.”
“Agriculture is the optimistic science. Ten percent of life is what happens to you. Ninety percent of life is how you deal with it.”
“Too soon old, too late smart.” (Old German saying)
“Treat people you do business with the way you want to be treated.”
“Farming takes everything you’ve got – financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. You can manage them all by always keeping your head in the game.”
Farmers are not showy people. They are hard workers who are more willing to listen than they are to give advice. Most don’t feel qualified to advise; after all, most farmers have had at least one bad year.
But maybe stumbling at least once in this business gives us the courage to be able reach into the depths of our hearts and think of what we would tell someone daring to get into this business that has offered us so much satisfaction-and so much pain some years.
History tells us that we’re destined to repeat the mistakes of our forefathers if we don’t learn from them.
These words are an outreach to tomorrow’s farm families. They’re meant to not only teach their own children what they know about being good farmers, but to teach their children as well because the future of the world is in their hands.
It takes a village to raise a child, as well as tomorrow’s farmers.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com
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