I had the privilege to introduce our Governor John Kasich on a trip to our state’s Capitol as part of AgriPOWER last year. As I stood in front of our group, Governor Kasich asked me “Are you a Farmer?” It took me a second in my head to think and say “Yes, I am a farmer.” I said that with great pride and I think that was the first time I had ever said it out loud. Was I a closet farmer? I outed myself and in front of the Governor of Ohio. Do others really think of me as a farmer? After all, I kind of lead a double life.
On one hand, I am a farmer. My dad was a farmer we have raised livestock my entire life. But while agriculture is in my blood I never really considered myself a “farmer.” Farmers wear bib overalls and hold a pitch fork right? I surely hope that is not your image of a farmer, but I also think I am not the typical farmer image either. I do not drive big equipment or even raise row crops. Those who know me when I am at home working in coveralls with our sheep or in the hay field sometimes have a hard time thinking of me in a suit and heels.
On the other hand, I work off the farm in a professional capacity, too. I spend a lot of my time with people who are 4 and 5 generations removed from agriculture. Most are shocked to think that I go home to a barn, bale hay, deliver lambs and haul manure. I have had some pretty interesting conversations with clients and coworkers about country life. People want to know what it is like to live a rural life. I have found that when I take time to develop a professional relationship with people they feel comfortable asking questions and seeking you out when they hear things that go against what you have told them.
In my double life, I have had some pretty amazing opportunities and have lifelong friendships with some one of a kind people because of agriculture. During the Superbowl, I am sure you either saw it live or on the Internet, the Dodge commercial “So God made a Farmer.” This commercial was great for many reasons, which I will not go into, but you can read my husbands thoughts on his blog. Once this aired, I got many messages from people saying they thought of me when they saw this ad. I kind of chuckled because when I saw this ad I thought of all my friends who are farmers.
We live in a society where people are increasingly becoming more interested in farming and food. This is fantastic and I am so excited that people are engaged in what they are putting in their bodies and in our earth. Farmers come in all shapes and sizes. There no longer is a typical farmer. Farmers can wear a suit under their coveralls, deliver lambs and then go back to work. Farmers can have grease under their fingernails and go to a board meeting. Farmers in the middle of harvest get a call that the neighbor’s cattle are out and they stop to help a friend. There are no limits to what one can accomplish in agriculture and this is a concept I am so excited to be instilling in my children. We farmers get to do what we love because everyone needs to eat. Everyone can eat because of farmers and all those who are involved in the agricultural community. In Ohio, Agriculture is our #1 industry.
What makes a farmer a farmer? A hardworking, dedicated, caring individual who will make personal sacrifices to better whatever situation it may be. A farmer believes in the future of agriculture and will let nothing stand in their way to make what we have now better for future generations.
This may sound a little familiar because it is for the farmer in everyone, even those of us leading double lives.