Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Lonely Profession

It's Mother's Day. Obviously, the Hallmark executives who started up this holiday were not farmers. Although today has been a great day spent with family, the farmers around here are working at a frantic pace to get the rest of the beans planted before the five forecasted days of rain. Each of the guys is in his own role, working in separate fields, separate tractors, and doing individual jobs. This is an efficient operation, however, a lonely one.

Why is this? Why is it that all of our tractors come equipped with "buddy seats," yet the guys work alone? Why is farming considered a family oriented operation, but a pretty lonely one at that? Why is it that we are a five family farm operation, but we rarely see but one or two of the five on a daily basis (did I mention we all live within a 2 mile radius of each other?)?

When Joe first started farming, the initial thrill of big equipment, cattle, dirt and four wheeling seemed to overpower the impending loneliness of a five hour wait in the semi during harvest. However, after the initial shock that we're actually doing this farming thing wore off and the realization that life goes on, and we all have a job to do set in, we both came to realize that farming full time is a lonely profession. There's no office buddy. There's no person to car pool with. There's no talking about "Dancing with the Stars" at the water cooler. Thus, the reason that coffee shops in small town America are full of farmers: there are some farmers who need contact, conversation, and also coffee.

Joe is not a coffee shop guy, but his need for adult and mainly agricultural conversation is similar to my need for my stay at home mom friends. We need to "cuss and discuss," as a friend of ours put it. Although we are able to be together as a family. . . a lot, which is mainly a good thing, everyone needs to be around people whom they are not directly related to once in awhile.

As a self proclaimed "people person," Joe has had to make a big adjustment in his lifestyle. He went from being a teacher to a state agricultural supervisor to a national educational consultant and speaker to a farmer. Sounds like a great professional progression, doesn't it? Although Joe is doing what he has always wanted to, it is still a lonely gig. Like the other farmers around here, he does a lot of his chores alone, works into the late hours alone, and comes in and does bookwork, marketing and the like alone.

There's not a lot of complaining around here, however. The farmers get together in front of the machine shed and kick dirt and discuss the weather and the plan of attack for the day. Then, like good foot soldiers, they disperse to their positions and work for HOURS alone, and even though my farmer husband is indeed a people person, he does this job with joy.

Farmers are lone wolves. Whether they are social people or agoraphobic, farming tends to be lonely, but you won't hear many farmers complaining. They're busy, out in the field, probably alone.

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