National Ag Day: Why do we farm?


Today is National Agriculture Day. I often write about what we do as a part of agriculture, but today I want to talk about why we do it. Michele Payn-Knoper wrote this post about taking the time to explain the personal nature of farming.

I’ve said too many times that farming is hard, that it’s so hard that many people aren’t willing to do it. I’m certainly not saying farming is the only difficult job out there. Engineering is hard, too, trust me. But as an engineer, I’ve never had to get up at 2 AM and go out in a cold rain to check on anything. As a farmer, I have.

So, if farming is so hard – why do we do it?

It’s a difficult question to answer – and one I’ve asked myself a million times. After all, when I met David, I wasn’t a farmer. It’s difficult to explain a decision like ours to someone who hasn’t farmed. There are certainly easier ways to make a more comfortable living. I admit that at times I needed a little convincing, but the process that convinced me didn’t include lists of pros and cons and logical reasons.

The process of buying the farm was very stressful. If we had given up and moved closer to my job, our lives would most likely be easier. But it wouldn’t be right. We talked about it, a lot. The thought of someone else milking our cows, of not seeing our calves grow up and have calves, of my husband putting on a tie every morning – it was heartbreaking. The more we worked side by side, I just knew. I understood what David always seemed sure of.

David's veiw from the tractor while planting corn
David’s veiw from the tractor while planting corn

I believe farming is something inside of us. Its a love for all things living and (for us at least) a faith that God will provide what we need. We love the good times – the newborn calves, the high milk tests, the yields that exceed expectations. The struggles, though, are what make those good times great.

The weather and our prices are two of the things we depend on most, and two of the things we have the least control over. Last year, our first year as owner/operators, neither was favorable. The past year has no doubt made us stronger. It has made us appreciate the things that do go right. If farming was easy, it wouldn’t be so rewarding.

View from the chopper.
View from the chopper.

We enjoy the challenge of doing more with less and finding new ways to do old things to make our cows and our farm better than they were before. And I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – we take pride in continuing a tradition that started in our families over 100 years ago. Farming is truly in the cloth from which we were cut.

If its so hard, why do we farm? We farm for our families, for our cows, for our land, for all those who need something to eat and drink, and for us. We farm because it’s who we are.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great.” – Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own

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