This is one of my articles that was in the Star Tribune. I wrote it specifically to honor my Father and am grateful I was able to share it with him before he passed.
There was a time when rural country areas were inhabited by family farms. Really, a unique sub-culture that personifies true human nature and the American way. That time seems to be gone and now many parts of the country are turning into little suburban type developments inhabited by city-dwellers complaining about the smell of manure from the very few family farms that are left.
Many family Farms are becoming non-existent while corporate farms have become more prevalent over the years. In many ways corporate farming makes sense and is aligned with the natural evolution of society as we entered the 21st century. However, it is not just pushing out the family farms, it is creating an extinction of the great American Farmer.
A Farmer, by my definition, is the type of man that works hard every day, night and day, with no days off; knows all of his neighbors, even the ones that live 5 miles away; and will stop what he is doing at the drop of a hat if someone else needs help. A farmer is a tough man with a hard shell, but has more caring and kindness within him than any other. He is a very special breed of human and as time has gone by I do not see many men that have the morals and integrity equivalent to that of a Farmer.
It is not just the loss of the family farm, but it is a loss of an era. It is a loss of innocence. People were different in the days when the family farm was prevalent and strong. Families went to church together. People smiled more. We weren't in such a hurry all the time. Children were respectful and polite. When passing an oncoming vehicle in the country you always received a wave, whether you knew the person or not. People didn't have all sorts of material things, they kept life simple. Cars, boats, snowmobile, ATV's, vacation homes, designer clothes...were not important to people during this time. Family is what had meaning. Life was about the farm, family, and simplicity. Not only that, but you truly haven't lived until you have swung across a hay barn on a rope.
I can remember a time when a neighboring farmer had gotten his tractor badly stuck in the field. All of the farmers in the area came and helped this one farmer. I remember being there watching this in awe. I was very young, but I think this memory stands out in my mind because it was so profoundly beautiful. It was a demonstration of human nature in its highest form. What I was observing was an example of our true human essence and purpose; to help one another as if all were your brother.
My father was a Farmer and I remember as a young girl admiring him. I viewed Farmers as heros, and rightly so. I recall riding the tractor with him and following him around the farm watching him work. He was always calm, well except that one time he was bitten by a hog. He was pretty much the opposite of calm at that moment, and inadvertently taught his young daughter some choice swear words. But overall I think working with the land and animals brings a kind of inner peace. The farm environment is simply natural, spacious, and peaceful. For a child it is one gigantic playground with numerous areas of exploration. I loved it, and when I had to leave the farm I mourned the loss. Although I left the farm, the feeling that it gave me has always stayed with me. As for myFather, he will always be a Farmer in my eyes because he still carries the beauty that was within him when he was farming.
With Love and Respect,