Perspective: Family & community are the best parts of farming


As a little kid, I couldn’t wait for the fall school days to be over. The bus ride always seemed to take too long. For many years we were the the last stop, and I impatiently waited to race down the driveway and hope I could finish my homework in time to catch a ride in the tractor with my dad.

The weekends were filled with hours of tractor time as we chopped stalks, tilled the soil, and hauled corn and soybeans. While I wasn’t old enough to really be of much help, I didn’t want to miss a minute of the action. My main duty came when we unloaded corn and beans. I usually went in the house to say hi to grandma, give her an update on where we were at, and grab a Diet Coke for my dad (grandma always kept her fridge well-stocked with pop of all varieties and a fresh pitcher of iced tea).

One of the memories I am most fond of is riding in the combine with my grandpa, mesmerized by how tall the corn was and how the machine worked.

I loved the evenings when my family, cousins, aunt and uncle and grandparents gathered around the kitchen table in my grandparents’ house. Grandma always had a delicious meal ready to feed the masses. As grandma got older and didn’t cook as much, we found our meal tradition turn toward ordering pizza or Chinese food — something we still reminisce about.

Much to the chagrin of everyone else in my family, I remember hoping that harvest would go through Thanksgiving so my dad would stay home to help my uncle finish up before the snow started flying because this meant more time in the tractor and another family meal at grandma’s house.

The fall season is here once again and while that means more family time, this season also brings challenges. One of the best parts of rural America is the sense of community and the support neighbors receive in times of need. It is no surprise to anyone reading this column that agriculture is going through some tough times. As farmers battle with several years of low market prices, it is time we step up and support one another in the simplest of ways — through conversation.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau recently partnered with 16 other agricultural organizations to launch the Farm Neighbors Care campaign. This campaign centers around farm neighbors stopping by to share conversation and a small token of appreciation with our hardworking farmers.
This could be coffee and donuts, some water and snacks or a hot meal for the farm family to enjoy. Challenge yourself to not let this stop at one conversation, but to make it a regular habit.

To participate in the campaign, all you need to do is take a picture of whatever treat you will be dropping off and share it on social media with #FarmNeighborsCare. While this may seem like a small task, if we all rally together, we can start a movement that will encourage others to join in showing their appreciation and support for farmers.

No matter what state you are from or your involvement with farming or agriculture, I hope you will consider participating.

With the stress of the harvest season in full swing, I hope we can rely on the support of family, friends, and neighbors to get us through the most challenging days.


This column originally appeared in the October/November 2019 issue of Rural Route magazine, a Wisconsin Farm Bureau publication. It was republished here with permission.

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