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Joy’s Reflections: The tough years are part of what build character in those people we lovingly call “farmers.”

Joy McClain

July 6, 2019

3 Min Read
planter in the field
TOUGH YEAR: Planting was a challenge this spring, setting the stage for a tough year. Through it all, remember who you are — a farmer!

This has been a difficult year in agriculture. Living near the epicenter of the wettest areas this spring, it became hard to watch farmers as they wondered when, and if, they would plant a crop.

Everyone sympathizes with those working their way through a tough year. Here are my thoughts as farmers weather the storm.

Words of solace

Remember who you are. You come from solid, good stock. You left your plows to join the militia in hopes that a new nation could be born. You left your family and fields when the nation was on the verge of being ripped apart.

When the wind howled and blew dust for hundreds of miles while banks closed, somehow, there were still farms dotting the landscape. Decades of turmoil hemmed you in, but you’ve kept sowing seeds. Since the first man walked the Earth, there has been caring for and nurturing of Creation. Man has subdued the flocks and fields, and his name is “farmer.”

Remember the years that were plentiful, shouldering along with those you love to produce and provide. Every single time you’ve had the opportunity to cut through the hardened soil of spring, there has been a familiar gamble. Drought, heat and this year’s rain — all reminders as to how little control we really have over anything in life.

Remember all the disappointments of years past: losses in livestock, the markets, prices, overhead and how many times you thought you couldn’t make it one more year. And even if you didn’t, even if it all had to be closed and sold, who would you be then? You would still be a farmer. It isn’t a job or career; it’s how you live and how you think. None of it has been wasted, and neither are the lean and hard times.

Strength in character

Just what makes the farmer such a strong character? It certainly isn’t because year after year things come easily or even reliably — quite the opposite. Who you are is a result of your suffering, sacrificing and working that often leads to a satisfied exhaustion. It has come with a price, but anything of value does.

Who you are is because you have known what it is to deliver a stillborn calf, watch as hail pummels wheat, or see endless rain come in wave after wave. Who you are is a result of being taught by your father as he was taught by his, and now as you teach your children the rich bountiful wisdom of your trade.

Maybe this will be one of the most challenging and stressful seasons of your life, but how great is the way of life that you have known? How blessed have you been in the years that didn’t seem to drill so deep in your patience?

Don’t lose hope, farmer, for you have faced uncertainty before. Show us, once again, that you’re a rare and unique breed. You are seasoned, proven in the face of trials. You are, as they say, “everyone’s bread and butter.”

You’re an example to us all that speaks to the tenacity of the human spirit. Though the fallout might be great, the oldest, most honorable profession isn’t being wiped from the landscape. Neither will you nor your character be ruined. So, farmer, remember who you are.

McClain writes from Greenwood, Ind.

About the Author(s)

Joy McClain

Joy McClain writes from Greenwood, Ind.

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