‘Buy Dirt’

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Pennsylvania farmland

While busy preparing for the holidays, I was riding in my daughter’s car with her to run errands. We were making our lists and checking them twice. Her children were in the backseat, quietly about to doze off as the late afternoon sun streamed in the windows. Suddenly, her son said, “Mommy! Turn it up!”

Caroline laughed and shot me a look. “Isn’t he a little young for this?” she asked with a grin as she reached for the radio volume. He had just celebrated his 5th birthday a few days earlier.

Buy Dirt

The song that startled him to this request was “Buy Dirt,” and it is also my favorite of the moment. Written by brothers Jacob and Jordan Davis in the early months of grappling with the isolation of the world pandemic, Jordan later recorded the song, accompanied by Luke Bryan on a track.

The song’s lyrics paint a picture of an older man, about to turn 80, talking with a younger man who is busy chasing a dollar. With the wisdom of age, the older gentleman advises the young man to focus on what really matters as he builds his life.

“If you want my two cents on making a dollar count — buy dirt. Find the one you can’t live without. Get a ring, let your knee hit the ground. Do what you love but call it work, throw a little money in the plate at church. Send your prayers up and your roots down deep. Add a few limbs to your family tree, and watch their pencil marks and the grass in the yard all grow up. The truth about it is, it all goes by real quick. You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy dirt.”

The song goes on to say, “Before you get caught on that ladder, let me tell you what it’s all about. Find you a few things that matter that you can put a fence around. You can buy dirt. And thank the good Lord for it, cause He ain’t making any more of it.”

Home

As we moved along the country roads, passing farm fields that have forever been home for me, I watched two little ones joyfully wiggle-dance as much as toddler car seats will allow. My granddaughter giggled every single time she sang “buy dirt!”

I was smiling as I thought of Dad. Though the song may reflect a less literal interpretation, a farmer really does think this way.

My father shared this very wisdom with us as my husband and I were starting out. “Even if a piece of ground seems to cost too much, remember that the good Lord isn’t making any more of it, and it’s not gonna get cheaper … do what you can to make it work, if it’s a good place to raise your family. You will never regret it,” he often said.

Focus

All these years later, I can still hear him saying it. We have passed this onto our own children. As all four of us in that car happily sang along to this hit song, the worries of the world lifted and the joy of being with three very dear people superseded every single thing. This is exactly what matters.

As you close out this year of stressful uncertainty, I hope you focus on faith, farm and family. May happiness walk with you as we step into a new year. And by all means, turn the radio up and sing along!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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