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: