I found myself perusing Facebook while I was cooped up in my house last weekend (thanks to #PolarVortex), and this picture and accompanying caption popped up in my newsfeed from a college friend whose family operates a dairy farm in northern Indiana.
Too often, I forget that the farmer’s work is never finished. While I was in my sweats drinking tea and watching television, farmers like the Troxels continued to do their daily work of stewarding creation. Agriculture can’t take a snow day.
Farming is a 24/7/365 job that requires a vision for the future and sacrifice. I’m a fan of the writings of James Herriot, a British veterinarian who worked in the mid-20th century. With a practice in an English town, Herriot worked closely with the local agricultural community. I think this anecdote he shares sums up the farming work-ethic: “A farmer once told me one of the greatest luxuries of his life was to wake up early only to go back to sleep again.”
Since I’ve been working in agriculture, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the work to which farmers and ag businesses devote themselves. Not only are farmers concerned with being good stewards of the earth and caring for their animals, they also want to create an agricultural system that is sustainable for generations to come. These people are often heavily involved in their communities; they work with parent-teacher associations, volunteer at their churches and serve on various boards. Their work spans the breadth and depth of society, and touches the world.
Their work is also dependent on factors outside of their control. Not enough rain at one time of the year and too much at another time can be the difference between a good crop and a bad one. And that’s just one example. Talk to any farmer, and he/she will tell you of dozens of instances when farm operations were impacted by weather, disease, etc.
Farming. It truly is a job for all seasons. I’m thankful that farmers work year-round to put food on our tables and clothes on our backs while taking care of the earth.