Farming was my first love. The very first time I was “let loose” to drive a tractor, I felt an enormous sense of pride. I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world to be raised on a farm. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a farmer.
Now, as a mom, I have fallen in love with farming all over again . . . but this time through the eyes of a child. There is nothing more precious than watching a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl get so excited to help with chores that she can hardly see straight. The excitement is almost too much for her as she spits and stutters the latest cow story out. Her little friends at daycare are sick and tired of hearing her cow stories, no doubt.
I feel so grateful that my children will grow up understanding birth, death and all the things that happen in between. They will learn to put other things ahead of themselves. They will learn the joy and pride of taking care of animals and land. They will also learn the disappointment and heartbreak that comes along with farming. The damaging winds and hail that destroyed what looked to be a bumper crop. The day you find a dead calf in the pasture after you’ve cared for it for months and did everything you could to save it . . .
Farming is the backbone of our existence. Without it, everything we eat, touch, feel, smell and depend on would not be possible. Somewhere along the way, as less people have grown up on farms and society has become more and more disconnected with farming, misconceptions and untruths about farming practices have surfaced. When there’s no connection with a farm or a farmer, people start to look at their food and think, “Where did this come from and how was it made?”
My goal is to be that connection for you. When you think, “I don’t know where this steak or pork chop came from,” know that it came from my family’s farm or a family farm like mine who has been farming for centuries and wants to produce the best quality meat for you and your family. Know that I feed my children the exact same thing and have complete confidence in the practices we use.
Farming has made incredible improvements in technologies and innovations that allow fewer farmers to produce more products than any other time in our history. Thank goodness, because we have more mouths to feed now than ever before. I often hear someone say, “This isn’t your grandfather’s farm anymore.” Amen to that . . . because if we were still doing things the way our grandfathers did them, we would be out of business. We have made major improvements to farming since our grandfathers were doing it. We produce food safer, more efficiently and with higher quality than any generation before us. But some things have not changed. Our core values remain the same . . . we take care of the land and animals the best way we know how. We want to preserve our land and farm sustainably more than ever because it is our livelihood. Our biggest dream is to pass our farm onto the next generation. We cannot do that unless we use sustainable practices today and everyday in the future.
Everybody wants a romantic vision of farming . . . the beautiful red barn, Betsy the cow whom we milk everyday, a few chickens roaming happily around the yard and Wilbur the pig who is always clean enough to pat on the head. I admit, I’m a romantic myself. But the truth is, there are millions of mouths in this world that need fed. And there will be millions more in a few short years. If you choose to buy organic food, good for you. I have nothing against that. You’re one of the lucky ones who can afford to make that choice. But if you expect the entire ag industry to use organic farming practices, then you’ll have to decide which mouths should starve. More on that later.
When we don’t understand something, it seems scary. I challenge you to open your mind, ask questions and try to understand what really happens on a farm and how your food is produced. I’ll do my best to help along the way.