Thinking Out Loud

Several years ago ... I went out for supper with some former classmates. And during the course of the conversation, one classmate made the statement that I was not a real farmer.

I laughed it off and said something about Real Farmers wear Ruffled Aprons.

But I didn't forget the statement. You are not a real farmer.

So who is a real farmer? Is farming judged by the number of acres you have? Is there a magic number? If you have 19 acres and the magic number is 20 ..... do you do less work?

Is farming judged by your input costs? We can't judge by profits because there would be very few farmers. But maybe we can judge by input costs. If you reach $75,000 in inputs ..... are you a farmer?

I think about it a lot this time of year. For the next 6 weeks ..... as the tractors rush by me on the gravel road ..... I will be on my hands and knees planting. They will quickly finish planting their 160 acres of corn, while I'm still struggling to get the zinnias in, mulched and watered.

They will be comfortable in their John Deere tractor cabs with the air-conditioning while I have the stinging sweat dripping into my eyes. They can pop out of their tractors --- not too worse for wear --- while I have grunchy dirty knees and the manicure from Hell!

In a few weeks ... they will be done. For the next three months, I will be weeding --- again on my hands and knees. I have yet to see that Round-up Ready larkspur or snapdragons.

I will harvest my flowers and dry them. I will collect my eggs and sell them. I will pick the tomatoes, the beans, the squash and can them. I live off these two little acres, hopefully with a respectful nod to the Lord and His glorious creation. I try to put more in ..... than I take out. One for me .... One for the birds.

I always thought that farming was not about acres or crops but a way of life. You can farm a 1/4 acre in the city with the right attitude. Or maybe you have a thousand acres .... yet buy every thing you consume, right from the grocery store. Do you really farm ..... or do you quickly plant crops to be consumed by others? I don't know the answer.

I do know this ............ Real Farmers wear Ruffled Aprons!


fullfreezer said…
Sharon Astyk posted on Casaubon's Book a while ago about what it means to be a farmer. I can't find the link right now but it was a powerful statement. She even counts people who do container gardening on their apartment balconies. I agree with you- it's not about acreage but attitude!
Tammy said…
I read a quote by a gal once, and wish I could remember how she said it, but it was along the lines of you are a farmer by the work you do, not the size of you acreage etc. I just thought that was wise. I realize I'm not a 'professional' farmer in the sense that I can earn a living with it. But I also know the husbandry of animals and the land is what makes you have the soul of a farmer.
corinne said…
Well said Miss Eff!
Anonymous said…
Love it! Yes, you and I are both farmers!
Anonymous said…
Farmers are those who produce $1000 worth of whatever they produce. That is the USDA standard for a farm. You are indeed a farmer!.

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