Farmers quick to offer a helping hand

A young farmer examines corn seed in a corn field.

“To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do.”

—Hermann Hesse

I have been known to say, like a broken record, I wish we could turn the clocks and the calendars back to about 1950.

There was, obviously, still a whole lot wrong in the world during those times, but at the core of the rural America I was born into in 1959, people reached out to one another with compassion in offering a helping hand.

So much in our world has slowly shifted to a more introverted way of living out a life. It’s sort of a quiet existence, an unspoken motto of ‘don’t bother me and I won’t bother you’ in much of society.

My husband is one that has always refused to live that way, and it shows nearly every day in one way or another. This past week, while I finished a chore, I heard him say, “I’ll be back!” I saw him get on the John Deere tractor and buzz off down our lane.

It turned out our neighbors from over the hill had pulled into our lane to attempt to fix an issue with their corn planter.

Doug figured having a bucket on the front end of our tractor might be of help in bearing some of the weight while a problem was solved, and it turned out his hunch was right. He was in a great mood the rest of the day. “I just love this community,” he said. “Neighbors helping each other is what a farm community used to be, and it feels great knowing it still can be exactly that way today.”

We can travel several states away, and still someone will recognize him. Even if we are following a tight schedule, he will never walk away from a greeting and a conversation. Part of this comes from his work in the agricultural world, but some comes from his lifetime hobby of coon hunting, serving within United Kennel Club, UKC, leadership for many years.

A couple of years ago, while vacationing with our daughter and her family in southern North Carolina, we had just gotten ice cream at a lovely outdoor place when we heard a man say, “Aren’t you Doug Sutherland?” My daughter grinned and said, “Brings back memories of going to the county fair with Dad, and never quite making it to the rides!”

That fellow was connected through the training of hunting dogs and coon hunts. The two chatted while his ice cream melted, but the person in front of him took priority.

We jokingly told him he could never make it in the witness protection program, and he grinned while trying to enjoy a rapidly melting cone. If his phone rings, even while on vacation, he will always answer and try to help solve a problem for someone.

It is his strong suit, truly enjoying connections to people, seeing the best in everyone he meets, offering a helping hand in any possible way he can, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

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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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