It Takes a Village to Run a Farm

The 2016 fall harvest has been one for the books. Between the continued rain, the drowned-out and then replanted soybeans and the milo that won’t dry down, it feels as if we may never put away the combine. Add to that the annual coming home of the cows, a process that requires hundreds of miles of drive time, days of preg checking and delivering cows to fields, and the past few months have been a blur.

Farming is never an eight-to-five job but this year the overtime and 12-hour days have become the new normal. Many mornings my husband has been out the door before the sun and home well after the boys go to sleep. Saturdays have been just another workday and a few times he has violated his own rule of not working on Sundays simply because the work had to get done. This season my husband’s workload and the demands of farming has been more pronounced than ever.

I rarely contribute directly to the daily operations on the farm. I exist in the periphery and as a piece of a larger support system for my husband and his father. The work of a farm wife is different but many times an essential part of the success of a farm. But it’s not just the spouses and farm employees that make farmer’s work possible. There are dozens of industries, occupations and roles that must also exist to support the guys and gals in the field.

We often take time to thank our farmers but rarely do we give a voice to the village that makes farming possible. On any given day veterinarians, store clerks, truck drivers, grain marketers, elevator workers, feed salesmen, crop adjustors, agronomists and many, many more make my husband’s work possible and in many ways easier. Farmers are often jack-of-all-trades but they cannot be everywhere so they rely on trusted professionals to do their part to keep the crops thriving and animals growing.

Add to that list the grandparents, in-laws, babysitters and friends who help shoulder the burdens of childcare, meals, transportation and errands. I have many of these people in my life and this fall, they have been my crutch and my airbag when the chaos and demands of children, work, community obligations and husband-less weekends become too much.

A farmer’s village of support is diverse and consistently growing but is always populated by people who love the land, the animals and the lifestyle of rural America. These people devote their days to ensure farmers can spend theirs doing what they love.

During this holiday season and as we approach another year let us all take a moment to recognize all the people that makes the agriculture industry go round, keep our farmers farming and the dreams of owning a farm alive for the next generation. Without these folks and their respective contributions, farming would simply not be possible.

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