To the Editor:
As I watch our “Small Town USA” progress into a booming little city with storefronts and shopping centers popping up here and there, it forces me to reflect on the things we sacrifice in our pursuit of growth and development.
Don’t get me wrong; I used to enjoy a day of shopping and treasure finding as much as the next girl. And some days I still do. But somewhere in the process of my becoming an adult and forming my life’s values all of the hustle and bustle has lost some of its luster.
As I have watched the concrete slabs be poured and new structures be erected all over this county, I am torn between pride in our growth and a longing of the beautiful farms and fields that have been kissed goodbye as they have been overtaken by building after building. I feel we as a society are rushing the extinction of something very sacred – the American farmer.
One of my life’s greatest blessings was being born the daughter of a farmer. From my father I have learned the value of hard work, the reward of day after day committing your hands to “work the earth” and reap the benefits of your harvest. I have learned to appreciate a calloused hand. It’s spectacular really, how brilliant a farmer is. To be able to look at a field of hay before the first cut and know it’s quality and readiness to be baled is brilliant.
To be able to read the weather and know when it’s safe to cut a field of hay is brilliant. To be able to assess a herd of cattle and know how well a cow will breed is brilliant. To single handedly be able to manage and operate heavy equipment, hauling it from farm to farm, to produce a harvest that he’ll be lucky to yield enough income from to cover the expenses of producing it in the first place is dedication. These are just speckles of the infinite kernels of knowledge that a farmer possesses.
This is one of my favorite seasons of farming because I love the sweet smell of hay. I will forever associate that smell with my father’s hard work on long summer days in the hay fields. I consider myself fortunate that my father trusted me enough at the age of 16 to teach me how to rake hay and help him in the hay fields. Every summer since, my sister and I have had the pleasure of being his helper and although it is hard work in hot humid heat, it is hands down one of the coolest jobs on earth. I’m not a kid playing with toy tractors any more. I’m driving the real thing right beside my favorite farmer in the world. I eagerly spend free days off work with him on the farm repairing the fencerows and whatever odd and in work is needed. All of this because he instilled in me an appreciation for the American farmer.
So, I share all of this to say. Enjoy your trip to the stores and restaurants, because they certainly are fun and entertaining. But as you travel from place to place, take time to look upon the beautiful landscapes and the farmers in their tractors and fields. Take heed to appreciate their beauty and dedication because it’s something we lose a little bit more of every time we pour another concrete slab and slap up another building.
I feel very blessed to have a father, who as a farmer, has given me a desire to learn more about what he knows and to learn how I can participate in helping sustain all that it means to be a farmer. I love the American farmer, and for those of you who read this, I encourage you to thank a farmer.
Jill Montgomery Major