Boy, we do a good job sharing the romantic side of farm life. I am guilty of it. My scenes from the farm are filled with sunset landscapes and happy calves leaping around. I probably should be sharing the pictures of knee-deep mud my family is dealing with today.
For us who farm, you know the beauty of breathing fresh air, enjoying a sunrise or sunset and the freedom to roam wide spaces enjoying the wonders of nature. You get it. Frankly, it is partly why we farm.
Farmers and ranchers are emotionally tied to the land and animals. You are personally invested in farming or honestly, you would not farm through all the animal health challenges, the rough weather years or extreme difficulties. You would quit showing up.
However, a very small percentage of Americans actually get the full farming experience. Farmers and ranchers want the public to fall in love with the farm without living the daily life of a farmer.
Majority of our urban neighbors have important careers and make large contributions to the world. If they are in their chosen career or landed their dream job, they will tell you it doesn’t feel like work. They would go on and on about all the things on the job that make them show up every day.
This is a similar dialogue farmers and ranchers discuss in the food conversation. While we all know why we emotionally and economically invest in farming every day, there are times farming is not so romantic.
Do we owe it to the public to show a raw side of farming?
We see it as negative if we discuss the struggles. The times we face the banker, knowing he is going to lecture you or worse tell you to quit farming. The times we can barely drag ourselves out to the barn, knowing a disease is wiping out every piglet born in the maternity ward. The moment we drop to our knees in a field burning up from the lack of moisture or a farmstead in ashes after a wildfire. The times we spent all night in the barn caring for the animal on its deathbed. The days you are riddled with guilt because you didn’t get the meal cooked for the family, you didn’t make it to your kids’ game or failed to complete another obligation because a farm emergency arose. The times you broke down in the back pasture wondering how you can honestly go on. We fail to show the ugly in fear of how people will judge you.
I am a firm believer in balance. Yes, we should share our wonderful views, the animals in normal settings and all beauties of agriculture. It is amazing.
However, everyone has struggles, challenges and extremely bad days. In the right moment, we need to share a powerful story, tell more about the days that farming kicked our butt or how we overcome a large trial.
People trust authentic and relatable people. Maybe a powerful story is just the ticket to help them understand why we need technology on the farm. If they see you are human rather than a romantic hero in a novel, then perhaps it is easier for them to trust that farmers and ranchers are making the right decisions on the farm every day.