We asked readers to tell us what they love most about their life’s work. Here are some of their replies.
I love farming because… “on the days you look at your spouse both exhausted from lambing all night and asking, “and why do we do this?” Then two things happen. A half hour later you look in the pen and see beautiful lambs bouncing around glad to be alive. In the same half hour you receive an email from a youth that just wants to let you know they did well and had a great time at a show with the lamb they purchased from you earlier in that year.
“Farming is an occupation with ‘simple rewards’ that can fulfill your heart and soul like no other.”
— Denise Orr, Jackson Center, Pa.
I love farming because… “it is the only profession in which the land, animals and plants of the earth are my trainers. Farming is the only job with creation as its manual and connection as its goal.
“The modern office disconnects workers from the soil, air and sun. In doing so it disconnects man from his roots. Outside the captivity of the cubicle, farming conjures connection to my maker. My hands are stained by soil. Every morning as I walk to the barn to start work, my chest fills with fresh air. I am able to absorb my daily requirement of vitamin D directly from the sun, not fluorescent lighting.
“I love being a farmer because it makes me a better steward of the earth and invites me to participate in His creation.”
— Ivory Harlow, Chillicothe, Ohio
My name is Jack. I am 84 years old. I was raised in the city until I was 16. When I got into trouble, my dad would not pay for anything I did wrong. So they sent me to a farm. Coming from the city, I didn’t know anything about farming.
It was a small farm of 100 acres. It was worked with a team of horses. I worked hard to show the farmers that a city boy could do the job. I got so good at working the farm that they wanted to adopt me.
Mom and Dad wouldn’t approve of that. I had wonderful parents.
What I remember most about the farm was the smells. I can still recall the smell of cherry and apple blossoms in the spring and the smell of wood burning in the kitchen stove. Also, the smell of horses, cattle and hogs. There is nothing quite like the aroma of fresh cut hay or the strong odor of the meat curing in the smoke house.
I still miss thrashing and butchering hogs. All the neighbors came to help, and we would go in return to their farms to help them.
I remember all the work the farmer’s wife would do in a day. She got up early to milk five cows, feed the chickens and make breakfast for everyone. During the day she would take care of the milk in the spring house, work in the garden, wash and iron clothes, take care of the house and make cookies and pies for Jack. We always had plenty to eat.
We never worked on Sundays, and we always went to church.
The house and barn were never locked and cash money was kept in a mason jar on the kitchen sink. Every Saturday I was given 50 cents to go to town. I will always cherish my memories of the farm.
— Jack Schmidt, Pittsburgh, Pa.
I love farming because… “of its gifts that keep on giving. Its really not everyone that knows the pride of seeing their own cornfield blowing in the wind, or their own livestock, born and bred on the family farm, frolicking in their field. Few people have ever been in the cool dirt on a hot July afternoon doing a routine check, one-on-one with Mother Nature. Or the sight of a fresh smelling barn, filled with a homegrown harvest of hay. Or maybe its just sitting down to a real country breakfast of farm-raised ham and eggs. With all this and more, why’d I ever want to do anything else with my life? Everything I’ll ever need is right here, on the farm.”
— Jaclyn Krymowski, Hinckley, Ohio
“The thing we love most about farming is sharing it with our four kids. It taught them work ethic, how to get their hands dirty, gave them character (or that’s what we told them when it came time to clean the barn), responsibility, but most importantly the labor of love. Our labor of love bonded our family and taught our children the value and importance of family. We watched our children play in the creek, help each other take care of their 4-H animals, camp in the woods and most importantly develop a close relationship with each other. This has carried on into their young adulthood; they maybe far from each other in distance, but they are close at heart. Farming bonded our family together and taught our children many valuable life lessons that have helped them to succeed in life.”
— Don and Leanna Stryffeler, Lisbon, Ohio
“I love my beef cattle, especially the babies. And love my chickens. All are fun, and it is rewarding to see positive results with the care and attention we give to all of our animals on our farm.”
— Darla Clinedinst, Marengo, Ohio
“Right now it is lambing time for me. Nothing is more heartwarming than going out to the barn to be greeted by a brand new baby lamb or two or three.”
— Kaey Brey, Columbia Station, Ohio
I love farming because… “the gamble, the everyday challenge, the decisions that can make or break your life… just the thrill.”
— Chris Niemann, Dwight, Nebraska
I am sending you a copy of the poem that my niece wrote for her father in the spring of 1993. He passed away in January of 1994 with esophageal cancer but I felt that her feelings summed it up not only for myself as a small farmer, but for many other farmers too. … People say farming is in your blood and our father farmed and hopefully farming will continue in our sons and grandchildren. This is why we love farming. (Poem follows)
— John Starrett, Cumberland, Ohio
When people ask me, “Why do you farm?”
I simply reply, “Just look at the barn.
Its walls are bulging with hay bales and twine,
Old chains and buckets and tools of all kinds.
It looks a bit run down with holes in the floor,
But it’s what happens inside that I quite adore.
The ewes calmly resting in their warm straw bed,
Patiently waiting for the next time they’ll be fed.
The lambs are racing, stiff legs and all.
They know they’re well cared for, they’re having a ball.
These sheep become family, their problems become ours.
We help them and feed them at all different hours.
Four in the morning comes pretty quick
for a trip to the barn to check a baby that’s sick.
Playful’s in labor, let’s get her pinned.
Quick, now, let’s hurry, she’s about to begin.
One lamb is born now, nope, make that two.
They’re up and nursing, God Bless that ewe!
The cattle must be fed and the hay must be hauled.
The chores seem endless with the feeding and all.
And don’t forget the hogs dears, to my kids I do tell.
Remember it’s not pigs, but money you smell.
And even those hogs, all covered in dirt,
When playing and running can be kind of cute.
Money is tight, seems we don’t have a dime.
Lots of work to do, but short is the time.
The tractor is old, and the chopper’s broke down.
A new one is needed, but no money is found.
We struggle and work to keep our heads up.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep our chins up”
“Then why do you work from sun up to sun down?”
To me asks the skeptic, his face in a frown.
The answer, you see, is really not hard.
Just look at the animals in my barnyard.
To watch something grow, to eat and to live
Is a pleasure to me, something to give.
This job that I have in which hard work is a part
Is worth it to me, down deep in my heart.
So now you know the real reason I farm.
The reason I say, “Just look at that barn.”
That barn may be old, but by gosh, it’s mine.
Bulging with hay bales, old tools and twine.
— Linda Starrett Hatfield
“Actually, if we felt farming was work, we would be doing something else. We think nothing of going out in zero weather to give the animals fresh water and food and clean their pens as best we can.
“It is getting up at 3 a.m. to go to the barn to check on an animal about to give birth.
“It is a lifestyle. It is a way of living with nature. It is in the blood.
“I had an ancestor who was 84. His listed occupation on the 1880 census was working in his garden.
“It is the feeling of accomplishment. It is planting a seed, talking to it and helping it grown into a productive plant.
“It is helping an animal be born and working with them daily to develop their full potential. It is amber waves of grain, it is the smell of new mown hay, it is watching calves running a full speed, tails straight up in the air.
“It is providing the freshest produce for customers. It is watching children and adults find the perfect Jack O’Lantern. It is watching baby kildares, baby rabbits and other wildlife.
It is being one with nature. It is peace of mind.”
— Juanita Deal, Athens, Ohio