Somewhere the last load of cattle a rancher or dairyman has, is being watched as it pulls out of the driveway.
Somewhere Tom and Betty watch as their land is auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Somewhere a little boy asks his parent’s why they are no longer farming.
Somewhere a young couple who risked everything, isn’t reaping their reward.
Farming ranks at the top of the suicide list by occupation. Looking at today’s farming economy, one could see why. Somewhere some farmer is losing everything they’ve built. They are losing the blood sweat and tears they’ve worked their whole life pouring into something that they’re so passionate about.
Yet, that farmer pushes on- sometimes. As a person with mental illness I’ve been told time and time again how selfish suicide is, and I agree it is. However, the mind works in mysterious ways. You get in such a dark and deep spot that you think it’s the only solution. That you’re a burden to everyone around you. I know, because I’ve been there. But remember I have two children that will have to live with the burden I leave them is what pushes me through. I’d rather them struggle with me here verses struggle without me here.
As farmers, we take such pride in what we do- our land, our animals, our family. That pride is what gets us. We weather the storms, the droughts, and the markets to try to survive another year.
As a young farmer the financial burden eats away at you, constantly. In our case, we live crop check to calve check. We constantly need some other piece of equipment and its like pulling teeth to get a banker to lend the money to you. We have friends who have their family backing or are going to inherit family ground and it eats at you when you’re off in the distance trying to stay afloat.
When we took our leap of faith and decided to grow and expand, we were risking EVERYTHING. Our philosophy is we’d rather try now verses regretting we hadn’t later. It was a now or never situation, and we jumped. And oh, the roller coaster it’s been.
We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We don’t know where the crop/cattle prices will be in months to come, but we can predict. We can predict for positivity. You see farmers at the coffee shop and feed store talking about the poor markets and their problems. Yet, they still smile and go on. What you don’t see are the struggles and emotions behind that smile. We never truly know how the person sitting next to us feels or what they’re facing. Just because they say they’re alright doesn’t mean they are.
Next time you’re with a group of farmers don’t be afraid to ask the raw questions. The ones that go past the, how are you? Ask the hard questions- how are YOU, not your FARM? How are YOU handling the trials and tribulations you’re going through? What can I do to help you? Leave the farm at the door and focus on them.
We smile about our passion. We smile for others. Deep down inside those smiles may be different. You know the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”- well, don’t judge a farmer by their smile.
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