I’ve always thought of myself as someone who loves to be outside with nature and animals as long as the day can still end with a hot shower, air conditioning and a comfortable bed. So, as I was pondering the importance of our local farmers, I was a little awe-struck. I think work on a farm teaches life lessons early; it teaches lessons of the unjustness of nature, the payoff of perseverance, the redemption found in faith and hard work and the value of honesty. My friend Kelli Phillips makes sure to remind me of these lessons she learned from her life growing up on a farm, and you can trust her because, as she always tells me, she’s “country as cornbread.”
Farm life is definitely unique. My papaw grew up with fifteen siblings. (And they all came from the same parents... way to go, great-grandma and great-grandad!) I grew up hearing stories about how they had no other option but to work hard. According to Papaw, when there are many mouths to feed and things to tend to, it creates strong family bonds that are formed and solidified through the daily joys and discomforts of farm life.
When I was growing up, Papaw had his own horses and land. It was not an entire farm like the ones we visited for this issue, but I loved being there. He “let” me clean out the horse stalls and the horse’s shoes. I do not know if he was really allowing me to do it for my enjoyment, or convincing me it was fun, so I would be excited to do the dirty work. (That sounds like something I would do to my kids.) Either way, I loved it and learned from it.
Farm life gives a troubled heart and mind many fulfilling tasks to complete outside in God’s creation. While we were visiting the farms to create this issue, there was a sense of peace enveloping these places. Being in the presence of the animals, the beauty of the wind blowing in the pastures and experiencing the calmness of the sunshine and blue skies was good for the soul.
I read something written by an Ag teacher that struck me. It said, “I love agriculture, because it maintains which parts of this world we are physically starving for, and that which most of this world is spiritually starving for. I love agriculture, because of its unique ability to combine progress and tradition—two ideals that naturally and typically clash… When the world relies on you for their daily needs, you get out of bed.”
While I do not have the experience of the daily life on the farm, I have had the pleasure to witness the values of hard work and faith it instills in you. I am thankful for those lessons every day and I am very grateful for the home-grown goodness of this wonderful community.