Just A Farmer


The term “just a farmer” can mean a lot of things.


For several in agriculture it’s a negative connotation as it implies that farmers are “just” and nothing more.  It’s obvious to those well connected to agriculture that this is not true as even the simplest of farmers are far more than “just,” and their responsibilities reach far past farming in their day to day interactions.


While this website is run by three farmers, the term Just Farmers has nothing at all to do with agriculture, instead it is about growing and cultivation relationships.  In a sense we are farming conversations that in most cases have nothing at all to do with agriculture.


Personally for me it has a completely different meaning, one that I hold dear in my memories.  Two of the old time farmers I learned the most from as grew up, my grandfather Don Haley and his good friend Richard Zimmerman, both had a poem read at their funeral titled “I’m Just A Farmer, Plain and Simple” by Bobby Collier.  They both lived a long life of ninety years and saw several changes in agriculture throughout their life but in all they both were farmers through and through and that is how they will always be remembered in my heart.


For years whenever I referred to myself as just a farmer I get a lot of backlash. I was told nobody is just a farmer and I should not refer to myself as such.  At first I accepted this reasoning, because it is true.  I am more than just a farmer as I am a husband, Christian, book-keeper, accountant, mechanic, truck driver, writer, PR-wanna-be, businessman and the list can go on and on.


Parts of all my responsibilities I really enjoy, but at times I feel overwhelmed with all the other responsibilities that need to be taken care of so our family can continue to farm. At times I get frustrated as several of my responsibilities that make me more than just a farmer takes away from my passion, caring for and raising my crops and livestock.


Perhaps, as my dad currently is, when I get closer to my retirement years and have kids that are taking over some of the extra “non-farming responsibilities” I will be able to focus on the thing I truly am passionate about, working with the land. Maybe I can be just that, just a farmer.


I will close with the poem I mentioned earlier:


I’m Just a Farmer, Plain and Simple
By Bobby Collier

I’m just a farmer,
Plain and simple.
Not of a royal birth
But rather, a worker of the earth.
I know not of riches
But rather, of patches on my britches
I know of draught and rain,
Of pleasure and pain.
I know of the good and the bad,
The happy and the sad.
I am a man of emotions.
A man who loves this land,
And the beauty of its sand.
I know of a spring’s fresh flow
And autumn’s golden glow,
Of a newborn calf’s hesitation,
And the eagle’s destination.
I know of tall pines,
And long, waiting lines.
Of the warmth of campfires,
And the agony of flat tires.
But I am a man who loves his job
And the life I live.
I am a man who works with God,
I cannot succeed without his help,
For you see,
I’m just a farmer
Plain and simple.
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  1. Caryl Velisek says:

    I am no longer a ‘farmer’. I write about farmers and the incredible things farmers do today to feed and clothe the world. I was born and raised in a big city, a steel town, far from green, as was my husband. We chose to be ‘farmers’. We raised and showed beef cattle for more than 50 years. We fed untold numbers of livestock that in turn fed untold numbers of people. We were kicked, butted, and pooped on. We delivered calves, saw the dawn of artificial insemination and the benefits it was to the beef industry, doctored our charges when they needed it only to keep them healthy and productive, and watched cute little calves become magnificent creatures that could turn grass and grain into nutritious, great tasting food for humanity. We loved our charges and gave them the best of care so they would be the best they could be. We pampered some for show, brushing, grooming and keeping them clean, and we raised many so they could live and reproduce their kind. Our children grew up knowing the responsibility of caring for them. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Today I write about agriculture and all the things ‘farmers’ do to make this a better world and a better fed world. I no longer ‘farm’, but I am still a farmer and I couldn’t be prouder of what we all do. I thank God for every moment and that I have been allowed to be a part of it all.

  2. Tim Zweber says:

    Beautiful writing Mike. That poem always gets to me and unfortunately seems to only be read at funerals. I agree no one is “just” anything but a bit of humility isn’t a bad thing is it? I think we do ourselves more favors than wrongs referring to ourselves as a farmer rather than some fancy title when people ask what we do. There is a certain beauty to a word that can sum up so much in so few letters. The word means something different to each person it is said to but if we all continue to be what farmers have been for centuries, hard working, honest folk it will continue to be a title to be proud of.

    • Mike Haley says:

      Thanks Tim, I totally agree and feel like a lot of the names that have been given to replace the term farmers have only helped to lead others to question what we are and how we currently farm.

  3. Farmerhaley Rocks! says:

    Love, Love, Love this poem! The best day on the farm is a day when you don’t have to worry about paperwork, regulations or pending legislation that might impact your future to farm. Those days are far and few between but when you get one, it keeps you grounded and reminds you why you decided to be a farmer. Keep up the good fight Mike, there are a lot of us following your lead!

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