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The story behind a farmer’s calloused hands

Hard work got the best of my soft hands, but the farmer’s hands are proof of enduring love for feeding the world.

July 15, 2022

2 Min Read
hand with blisters
LEFT A MARK: Blisters from driving posts into the ground around our chestnut trees dried up after a week. Still, for many farmers and ranchers, these form into callouses over time. I’m out of practice for hard work.Mindy Ward

The blisters appeared. It’s been a while since I’ve apparently worked hard on the farm, and my hands showed it.

Deer decided to dine on a few of our chestnut trees, so my husband and I attempted to deter them. This included driving in a few T-posts to attach the deer fencing.

I’d like to say that we pounded posts into the ground around hundreds or even tens of trees, but it was three. Yes, just three. In my defense, that equated to six posts total for me — two on each. And still I developed blisters.

Soft hands. It is not something I’m used to. For decades, I worked alongside my family on the farm building and maintaining fence, bucking hay bales, and caring for sheep. You name it, we did it.

My hands were always cracked and calloused, adapted to hard work. But when these blisters appeared after driving just six posts, I realized one thing — I take the daily labor of farmers and ranchers for granted.

I was reminded what the calloused, wrinkled and weathered hands of a farmer represent:

Commitment. They are not like me — someone who can come in and out of the industry. My hands show it. I blister at the slightest work. No, farmers and ranchers are in it for the long haul. Even their callouses have callouses. The remain steadfast in their work to provide food, fuel and clothing for our nation.

Hard work. Many of us work hard at our jobs, but farmers and ranchers bring it to a different level. My job does not require me to go out in over 100-degree heat, negative 60-degree windchills or pouring down rain to feed livestock. My hands don’t crack because of weather or daily wear and tear fixing machinery or bucking hay bales. Still, farmers will put on those gloves to work hard so my family and yours can eat.

Passion. Years of good and bad weather, up and down markets, and sickness and health created those hands. They did not stop when the times got tough. Unlike me, farmers don’t quit pounding at six posts because they developed blisters. No, their passion drives them to continue, rough hands and all, to make a place for the next generation on the family farm.

I believe, as a nation, we should get back to shaking hands. It is those moments, grabbing rough and sometimes dirty and blistered hands, that we are reminded of the sacrifices some make for our nation’s food supply.

I’m sorry, but a simple elbow bump just doesn’t get it.

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