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Archive for February 19th, 2013

A few weeks ago, social media outlets were all abuzz about the Ram Super Bowl Commercial dedicated to farmers.

I have to tell you, every time I watch it, I’m overcome with a sense of nostalgia. It may even make me a bit teary-eyed.

Growing up on a farm, I can relate to the commercial on so many levels.

dad

My dad came from a long line of farmers. In his high school yearbook under the line that asks what he planned to be, he simply listed a farmer.

And it’s what he did.

dad on combine

He and my mother married young, moved away from their families, and worked on a variety of farms and ranches until they saved enough money to buy their own farm.

They lived on that land for fifty-one years.

Fifty-one years.

Daddy worked hard and expected all of us to give our best as well. He was most often up long before the first rays of sunshine would streak the morning sky and could be found out laboring until there was no longer any daylight to work by.

In the summers, if I wanted to spend time with my dad, I went with him to irrigate. I accompanied him many times in his semi-truck when he’d deliver a load of hay (the sleeper in the cab was a perfect place for my baby dolls to ride.) There was a time when all the guys at the parts counter at the John Deere dealer probably knew me by name because I would ride along with dad to go on a parts run. He always bought an icy cold glass bottle of Coca Cola from the vending machine and we’d share it while we waited for his parts order to be filled.

My mother thinks Daddy was one of the few farmers who had a four-year-old in pigtails asleep at his feet on a pink blanket while he swathed hay. I think he was probably one of many who spent time with their kids anyway they could, even if it meant having them underfoot while they swathed, baled, or combined. As I got older, I went from just tagging along to having chores to do, and then taking on more responsibility and work.

My dad didn’t just want to be a farmer, he needed to be a farmer. He loved farming, loved the land and loved his family – and to him they were all intermingled and entwined. Farming was as essential to him as air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. It was never a job to him. It was a way of life. His life – and all he ever wanted to do or be.

Was it easy? No.

Was it backbreaking, worrisome, and sometimes scary? You bet it was.

But my dad didn’t see it as work. You know that saying about when you find what you’re always meant to do, you’ll never work another day in your life? That was my dad.

It didn’t matter if the temperature was 103 degrees or 3 below, he did what needed done to keep the farm going.

Sure, he’d got tired and worn out. Sometimes I think he would have liked to take a long break, but he never did. He and my mom both used to say, all the time, “rest and go again tomorrow.”  That is exactly what they did.

What I learned growing up on a farm, besides how to precisely set irrigation tubes of all sizes, move sprinkler hand lines, and buck hay bales, was responsibility, loyalty, and perseverance. If things aren’t going just like you want, you don’t quit and walk away. My dad taught me that you figure out how to make it work. I learned all about multi-tasking, time management, and organizational skills by watching and working with my dad.

Lessons learned while I was working on the farm are ones you can’t find in a classroom, you can’t glean them from a Google search, and you can’t duplicate them without the experience that goes along with the lessons. Daddy taught me by example. By watching him, day after day, pour his all into what he loved, I learned so many life lessons that have served me well over the years. I’ve had a few people call me tenacious. If I am, it’s because I learned it from my dad.

For those of you who may not have seen the Ram commercial, I encourage you to watch it. Well-done, it is a tribute to farmers – past, present and future.

When you do watch it, notice the farmer’s hands that are worn and with broken, split nails. Those hands look exactly how I remember my dad’s hands always looking. Always. His hands were rough and callused, weathered and worn. Most often there was grease staining his skin, soil embedded under his nails (the ones that weren’t broken or missing), and at least one knuckle would be scraped raw. As rough as those hands were, they were such a comfort to grab onto when I was a child and needed a little reassurance. A farmer’s hands seem to have the magical qualities of being able to pull a calf, repair a piece of equipment, and gently wipe away the tears of a little girl all within a morning’s work.

Another thing about this commercial that really gets to me is Paul Harvey’s voice. The fact that Ram chose to use Paul Harvey’s “So God Made A Farmer” to go along with their commercial is both brilliant and perfect.

My dad would come in for lunch every day and turn on the kitchen radio to listen to Paul Harvey. Without fail. Unless we had company, you could bank on my dad and brother sitting at the kitchen counter, eating their meal while listening to Paul Harvey’s common sense wisdom.  At times, when I was a teen who knew absolutely everything, I would cringe to hear Paul’s voice come on over the radio, wishing we could listen to some my favorite music instead. Now, when I have the rare opportunity to hear a recording of Paul Harvey, it takes me back to my childhood summers, listening to his voice fill our kitchen while the scent of fresh cut hay drifts in the open windows.

Being a farmer in today’s world is no easy thing. People have forgotten how hard a farmer toils, how much he brings to the table both figuratively and literally.  Farmers and ranchers, to me, are the ties that bind us to something infinitely precious that so often goes unacknowledged and unappreciated.

The next time you pour a glass of milk from the carton in your fridge, grill a hamburger, crack open an egg, eat a slice of bread, or enjoy a juicy piece of fruit, stop for a minute and say thank you to the farmer who made it possible.

While I’m at – my hat is off to Ram for making such an awesome tribute to farmers and ranchers. In my opinion, the dollars invested in this ad are well spent, indeed. Ram has declared 2013 the Year of the Farmer. I back them in that declaration.

If you go to their website on the page entitled “keep plowing” and scroll down past the commercial, you can share a badge. For each badge shared, Ram will make a donation to FFA (Future Farmers of America) and other hunger and educational programs.

***

So God Made A Farmer – by Paul Harvey

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.

“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.'” So God made a farmer.

***

Note: This is not a paid advertisement or endorsement for Ram. They don’t know me from Adam, but they definitely know how to make one great commercial.

She Who is Proud to Have Been Raised by a Farmer

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