Why does anyone farm? One of the main reasons is for what is happening this time of year – harvest.
Harvest is the realization of plans that began as last year’s harvest was underway.
Changes in management practices, seed and variety selection, and many more plans for the coming year, which we are now wrapping up, were made last fall from the combine seat with one eye on the yield monitor.
And now decisions for next year are being made as fields are being crossed back and forth throughout each harvest day.
Once the fields are empty, fall tillage and fertilizer application have been made, machinery put away, and the ground freezes, everyone will take a long breath, then talk about the past year and the coming year.
As important as every crop year is, a farmer has many other reasons why they know they farm.
After raising the crops and livestock, it is the satisfaction of watching all those plans that have been made become realized in bins full of crops and livestock loaded on trailers headed for their next stop.
Raising high quality and abundant supplies of grain and meat is a major part of farming.
National Public Radio recently did a piece asking, “Do U.S. farmers really feed the world?”
I did not hear the broadcast version, but read the online article and it seemed NPR grudgingly acknowledged farmers help feed the world with abundant supplies of corn, soybeans and more.
I was left with the conclusion that if I was hungry I would count on the American farmer for help more than I would NPR.
Also, I don’t believe NPR realized that because Americans have low food costs that their income is freed up to do other things, like send in support to NPR during pledge time.
Then there is the knowledge that a farm is the best place to raise kids. Whether they stay on the farm or not, kids with a farm background have an advantage that will stay with them.
Children who grow up on a farm learn about outdoors and animals from puppies and kittens to pigs and calves.
They learn responsibility and respect in handling things bigger than themselves, whether a four-wheel drive tractor or 1,300-pound steer.
There are more reasons why farming and farm life appeals to me and the people around me for miles in every direction.
Being your own boss has a lot of responsibility and freedom. There are risks and rewards, along with the occasional failure, both small and large.
Every farmer I know has a strong desire to work for himself. He knows what he is going to do each day of every week all year long.
Right up to the moment, that is, when the weather, which always has the last word, changes the farmer’s plans.
A passing rain cloud can be as troublesome as a failed bearing making a job that was supposed to be done in the morning take the rest of the day.
Maybe the unpredictability is another draw for those people who want to farm.
We believe love and hate are opposites; but in reality, they are opposite sides of the same coin.
Every farmer would understand on those days when it is raining for third day in a row or when that piece of machinery that was just repaired breaks down or has to pull a dead calf out of the stock cow or a disease goes through the herd of hogs, he says, “I hate this job. And I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
That’s why we farm.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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