Well, farmers, we’re not in Kansas anymore

Five farm life lessons from The Wizard of Oz.

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The Wizard of Oz
Lobby card from the original 1939 release of The Wizard of Oz.

Has anyone watched the classic movie The Wizard of Oz lately? The escape to TV and books and entertainment is tempting right now, as agriculture is getting pounded on all sides.

While we may remember scenes of the Munchkins and the Wicked Witch of the West, we may have glossed over the valuable lessons rendered from the 1939 film (and original book by Frank Baum) about Dorothy’s dream journey to Oz and back home to the Kansas ranch of her aunt and uncle. And those life lessons may be just what we need to remember.

  1. Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Farm life is taking more twists and turns lately. We’ve always been aware of the roller coaster market rides, but some of us may feel we’re in foreign territory now and don’t even recognize familiar farm landmarks.

Ag is changing. Farmers are changing. Technology is changing. Where do we turn? Who can we trust? What do we do?

But Dorothy’s wandering path through dangers to Oz always had a singular mission: to get home. Likewise, your life’s path may be winding right now, but if you have a vision to guide you, your steps will be clear. Stay focused.

  1. It takes a team.

Dorothy had the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion by her side on her journey. They needed each other. Each felt he had flaws, but when the team’s success was in doubt, one of them stepped up, often sacrificing personal gain, to keep them going.

I’ve said this before, but you do not farm alone. Rely on the talents and strengths of your team, of those around you. And be that loyal team member when others need you, too.

  1. We have more brains, heart and courage than we think.

Dorothy’s motley companions were searching for traits they possessed all along. We do it, too. It’s easier to believe we can’t do something, that someone does it better, that we’re not good enough.

Yes, we do have flaws and we will fail. We have our limitations. But I believe we’re all a little stronger and smarter than we think we are. We just need someone to believe in us. And for us to believe in ourselves.

  1. There will always be Flying Monkeys.

Just when you think things are going smoothly, adversity will strike. Those Flying Monkeys you can’t control will come out of nowhere.

Everyone faces tough times. Everyone. What distinguishes us is how we face that reality. We cannot hide from weather, from our farm numbers, from roadblocks, and the longer we deny it, the tougher it becomes to persevere.

  1. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.

In the end, Dorothy discovers her heart’s desire was always right in front of her — what she already had in family and friends back in Kansas.

The success of your farm, of your life’s passion, isn’t shaped by how someone else farms, or what works for someone else. We all need help along the way, but no one can develop your own potential but you.

When you recognize what’s valuable to you — what’s important to you and what means the most to you — you will find your way home.

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