Traveling newsman Charles Kuralt once described the farmers of this nation as one of the most stubborn breeds of man alive, and I have never forgotten it.
Over the years, I have watched farm families design a life, then re-design it in order to find a way to survive. Some would have just thrown in the towel and said, “I’ll go get a job in town, reap big benefits and a decent wage. I won’t care when it rains, snows or hails. I’ll buy my milk in the store instead of getting up at 4:30 every single day to see that it’s produced for the rest of the world. I think I’ll even take weekends off and fancy Monday holidays – whatever those are.”
No other way. I have listened to retired farmers, many of whom worked full-time jobs both on and off of the farm, say they wouldn’t have done it any other way. The only regret they carry with them is that their hard work often kept them from enjoying time with their children as they were growing up. There was never enough time or energy to go around.
Richness can be measured in many different forms and society has its own gauge – a fancy car, a stylish and modern home, speed boats or cabin cruisers with cute little names emblazoned across the hull.
While farmers certainly do deserve to own all of these, they own something less tangible, something more extravagant.
Ironic. I find it ironic that for years, while farmers worked hard to grow their land portfolio, much of the world looked down on “country folk” from their penthouse apartments. While the skyline filled up with skyscrapers, farmers searched for ways to hang on to the rural countryside.
Now, a recent survey reveals that more and more of those penthouse dwellers are cashing in their own stock portfolios to buy land outside the city limits, seeking the peace and tranquility they once found so laughable, so simple-minded.
Part of this trend has come as a result of something as basic as the desire for safety and security. While crime rates have soared, overcrowding has contributed to this rage mentality.
Gratitude. Country people have a deep appreciation for such simple (and profound) things as safety and security, and they carry gratitude for things which many believe just “happen.”
Such things as a nice stand of alfalfa, rains that hold off until the last load of straw is pulled in next to the elevator, a feeble-looking pair of twin calves being nursed to the peak of pink-nosed perfection, a beautiful sunrise as the first milker goes on. All of these things are acknowledged with a quiet gratitude.
Survival. Thrown in to that mix of gratitude is also a fair dose of stubbornness. If not for stubbornness, survival of the farming way of life would have died out long, long ago.
Here’s to a strong dose of stubbornness to one and all!
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