Between meetings we’ve had this week and phone conversations, I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with some of our Illinois corn farmers. I asked them all this one simple question, “What makes you really happy?”
Here’s what they said …
A farmer’s life, well-being, and family are dependent on the weather. Trust me, you don’t really know what gambling is until you risk every penny you have to put a crop in the ground and then wait to see if it produces something.
Every board meeting we have, we spend some time going around the table to review how the crops look in each area of Illinois. Sometimes we talk about emerging plants, sometimes we talk about harvest and yields, sometimes we talk about soil health – but every single time we talk about moisture, whether it’s too dry or too wet in a given area, and when the last rain was.
Farmers depend on rain and they pray fervently for rain to help their crops grow.
Honestly, a free anything makes farmers really happy. This is why trade shows where equipment dealers, seed salesmen, fertilizer and chemical reps, and association staff are so popular with farmers. I mean, they love talking about farming, but if they get to talk about farming AND get a free flashlight or a free pair of pliers? They are in heaven.
And if we’re really honest with each other, isn’t this true of all of us? Wouldn’t we all love a free cup of Starbucks or a free Thirty-One bag? You see, they aren’t all that different from the rest of us.
Farmers use tools and gloves and flashlights every day of their lives and who wouldn’t want that stuff for free?
Picture it: a beautiful sunrise, a dewy morning. The temperature hovers at 70 degrees and there’s a light breeze blowing. You are driving through the country with the windows down catching a glimpse of the land your family has farmed for years. Your heart swells with pride to see the corn seedlings emerging in long green rows that are barely visible right now, but will be inches tall soon.
This is the fruit of your labor. You did this. And you’re very, very happy.
Farmers are connected to the earth. It’s no wonder that enjoying nature and seeing plants grow makes them immensely happy.
Everyone loves their family and farmers are no different. But I do think there’s a special emphasis placed on tradition in farming families. Because land doesn’t move, families stay in one town for many generations. Extended families stay together. Christmas at Grandma’s is the same every year, and it’s likely the same as it was when her Grandma did it. Dad’s first tractor stays in the family, and everyone comes together on Memorial Day to care for generations of family graves.
This in-your-face tie to the generations before you is a different lifestyle than many Americans lead. We have become a society where you move to find the best job and families are spread over the entire U.S. There’s no “good” or “bad” here, just different. And I definitely believe that feeling an anchor in your heart that roots you to generations of farmers before you is a big difference between rural and non-rural Americans.
Farmers are invested in their families and their farms long-term, because they have stood the test of time and they will last for years and years in the future. It’s a part of the lifestyle on the farm.
What did I miss? Are there things that make you really happy? Let us know in the comments!