Saturday, September 11, 2010

Farmer's Intuition

Farmers, both of the older generation and the new, have this knack for knowing things that I could only predict with the flip of a coin. Joe has the way of knowing when to drag the kids' outside toys in because it's going to rain cats and dogs before I even notice the first cloud. My dad knows when it's the right time to start working on the equipment to get it ready to roll in both the fall and the spring. My uncle knows when to start cutting beans or combining corn. . . by the way, it's next Wednesday. My father-in-law has almost a sixth sense on certain things, and today, as our country remembers 9/11, I am thinking of not only those who had ties to those who lost their lives that day, but my father-in-law's intuition on that clear fall day.

Joe and I have shared our "where we were" stories to each other, as we weren't even an item at that time. I was teaching and could hardly believe it when my student, Ethan, said a plane hit a building in New York. Joe remembers driving to work that day, without his cell phone, huddling around a television at his office on the U of I campus. Joe's dad was out raking hay, in an open station tractor, with no radio, no television, no student to report what had happened, but he knew something was up. He didn't notice any planes flying that day.

Isn't that amazing? Isn't it strange that a guy who was just doing what needed to be done on the farm noticed there was not a plane in the sky? This is a guy who lives 45 minutes from a small airport and almost 2 hours from a big one. This is a man whose commute is driving 3 miles to the hog buildings. That to me is part of his farmer's intuition. Rick, my father-in-law, is a hard worker, a good steward of the land, and an amazing father to his kids. However, the thing I have noticed about him the most in my almost 9 years of hanging around with him, is that he is very perceptive. I believe that this is a great personality characteristic, but it's also something that makes him a good farmer.

He knows what's going on, without being too concerned about the "Joneses," caring little of what other folks are doing, unless they need help. He is in-tune with his animals and their needs, working hours and hours and hours to keep his hog confinement operation up to par with the standards of the EPA and the USDA. That takes dedication, my friends.

But it's his intuition on September 11, 2001 that will always intrigue me. I think of all the times I am outside with the kids or running that I hardly notice anything but the whereabouts of the girls and my footfalls on the pavement. Rick, however, noticed the lack of planes that day. Talk about knowing your surroundings.

All farmers have this intuition, in some way, shape, or form. Some are just better at putting it to use. Rick is also the guy who gives me advice on when to cut my hair to promote growth, so he has some pretty silly intuition, but we won't go there.

I think that what I gather from seeing this farmer's intuition put to use is that I need to stop and check out my surroundings a little bit closer. I need to quit moving onto the next thing before my first chore is finished. I need to quit multi-tasking. . . Okay, I can't stop that or our house will fall apart! Regardless, if you ever want to know when to do something, whether cut your hair or if you have a funny feeling about something, my advice would be to ask a farmer. They're probably just as good as a psychic.


  1. That is pretty amazing. And you're right - it's there thorough-ness that makes them so good at "sensing" things that we wouldn't sense. The other day, Adam wanted to see the turkeys, so we went in there, and they were crowded a bit towards the back of the barn (obvious) and when I told hubby, he asked if they were "noisier than usual." I had no idea! They sounded like turkeys to me!!! But it's those details that help a farmer know what exactly needs to be done!

  2. So glad I stumbled upon your blog!!! I really look forward to following your story!!!