I learned to be thankful for farmers by watching and listening to my grandpas. One was still actively farming with an uncle when I was growing up, and the others had retired. (I had three sets of grandparents, due to my birth mother’s death when I was 2.) Watching my one grandpa come in from feeding the animals in the morning, washing up with the Lava soap at the sink just inside the kitchen door before sitting down for breakfast, all with a smile, made a huge impression on me. We were given jobs to do when we stayed with grandpa and grandma, which helped to teach me a tiny bit of the work that goes into farming. Our jobs were easy at our grandparent’s, since we were from the city. We learned a little more about taking care of farm animals from our cousins who lived a couple of miles away. They had dairy cows for awhile, as well as pigs. We learned how to take care of calves, and how they milk the cows. I was always fascinated by that, and wanted to be able to take care of my own animals some day. That wish came true when we started raising pigs in 1989.
As an adult, I’ve learned that farmers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, religious, and political beliefs. Their farms are very diverse, growing everything from apples to zucchini. The one thing they have in common, is an appreciation for the land and animals in their care. Some days the work is difficult, and some days pretty easy. Even with all of the uncertainty with weather and commodity prices, farmers are a pretty optimistic bunch. There’s always tomorrow (sorry if you are now thinking of the song from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), or there’s always next year are common phrases. I believe it is an attitude that is passed down through the generations. In the photo above, Jonathan’s great-grandfather, Daniel Olson, is working in the field. He moved his family up to our farm from Iowa in 1913. His wife and children probably had no idea what they were moving into. As we celebrated our farm’s 100th Anniversary this summer, we all were very thankful for that optimistic attitude that prompted them to seek a better farm.
In the 25 years I have lived and worked on the farm, I have learned how to communicate with other farmers. Many times, as I’m interacting with farmers from around the world through social media, I learn about a way of farming that I had never witnessed before. The food that they grow is one I like to cook or bake with, but had no idea how it was grown. I love when those farmers take the time to share their way of farming, and I am thankful that they care enough to share their stories.
To read more blogs written by farmers, check out Holly Spangler’s page, where she has compiled a list of other 30 day challenge bloggers.