Tag Archive for God

Farmers are people, too

Seth Teter

 

It seems it’s becoming more fashionable to eschew the slew of slogans that heap praise onto farmers. The thinking goes something like this: slapping a “Thank a Farmer” sticker on your truck bumper condescends to nonfarmers, does little to improve agriculture’s image, and it’s kinda like a lead singer that wears his own band’s t-shirt - it’s just not rock n’ roll.

But my beef with this and similar image campaigns is that they treat “the American farmer” as something, not someones.  And farmers are much more interesting as individuals than as an institution. Like 2 million times more.

So, would the real farmers please stand up?  All you ordinary people scattered among the rest of us Americans in our individual pursuits of happiness.

I don’t mean that as a slight.  Rather, I see it as Mr. Chesterton did:

“We should always endeavor to wonder at the permanent thing, not at the mere exception. We should be startled by the sun, and not by the eclipse. We should wonder less at the earthquake, and wonder more at the earth.”

That is to say the mythical Marlboro Man is decidedly less wonderful than a real story of a rancher named Jeff and his son who likes to talk about dinosaurs and other important things.

And while we respond to a hungry world with the triumphant call of progress, we see that agriculture’s endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth has always been miraculous in its monotony. To get caught up in the heroics of feeding the masses is to forget that each sprouted seed offers a sufficient marvel.

How much more wonderful to think that this intimate involvement in the process of life is not reserved for a special class of God’s chosen caretakers, but is work chosen by mere human beings.

And then to see a that a farmer’s stewardship of land mirrors a teacher’s stewardship of knowledge or a musician’s stewardship of culture or a nurse’s’ stewardship of health is to see we share something in our humanity.

So in all this clamoring over the right image, I’ve come to learn that any particular farm is simply an extension of its particular farmer. If you hope to understand anything about agriculture, you’ll first need to know something about its people.  Particular people – with names, and faces, and passions and perspectives.

You know, people like you and me.

Seth Teter is an agricultural communicator at the Ohio Farm Bureau working to facilitate conversations at the intersection of food, agriculture and community.

 

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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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