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By Staff | Aug 23, 2014

About this time every year a white ring is visible on my right arm just above my wrist. It cannot be seen during the day and appears during the night.

Can you figure out my self-made riddle?

Maybe you are suspicious that it is where I wear my watch and is the part of my arm that does not get tanned like the rest of it that is exposed to the sun.

If so, you are right.

I was hoping that having it on my right arm might throw you off. Since I am left handed, I wear my watch on my right arm.

It is not visible during the day because my watch covers that area.

This is part of what has been called a “farmer tan.”

That term sometimes has a derisive tone to it and is said mockingly.

I don’t mind the description at all as I come from a long line of farmer tans.

But farmer tans are not what they used to be. Tractor cabs have reduced the amount of ruddiness that increased as the summer progressed.

I enjoy looking at photos of farmers from around 50 to 100 years ago B.C. (before cabs).

They have a dark red area on the lower part of their faces that decreases in color as you move up their face until you see a nearly white forehead.

What is more amazing is that these skin tones are seen so easily in a photo that is black and white, not color.

I especially enjoy looking at a family photo of a father and sons who are wearing suits and looking so stiff in their posed photo with their white foreheads transitioning to the dark color on the lower part of their faces.

There is no attempt to hide it because everybody looked that way. There were a lot more farmers then.

As a fair-skinned Scandinavian, I have been exposed to the sun for so many years, the difference between my sun exposed darker skin and unexposed skin still surprises me.

My lily-white legs and back are about one step from glow in the dark.

Back in my teen years, when I didn’t wear anything on my head and had a lot more hair, my hair would be bleached by the sun making the tan more distinctive.

My farmer tan is now located mainly on my arms because of my short sleeve shirts.

However, farmer tans are now changing because I see many farmers wearing cutoff jeans as they go about their days. By summer’s end their arms and lower legs should match.

That will not apply to me because I have not joined the cutoff jeans generation. In fact, I don’t own a pair of shorts of any kind, cutoff or anything else.

It will never be hot enough for me to wear shorts of any kind.

Many years ago, I received a pair of shorts as a birthday gift and by the end of the day, they were owned by my son.

I don’t wear sandals either, in case you are wondering. Don’t own them, don’t want them.

You can forget the flip-flops, too.

My dad never wore shorts or sandals so maybe that is where I get my stubbornness to sweat it out on a hot day.

Even photos of me on vacation will show me wearing the same clothes I wear around home the rest of the summer.

I have the pictures from Monument Valley, Ariz. on a 98-degree day to prove it.

I wear my farmer tan as a badge of honor. That is, until about January when, like the farmers of long ago, it has faded away.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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