Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why I Farm

Sarah & Jeremy Wilson

Sarah & "Grandpop"

Why do I farm? I've pondered this for many years.

First, I think I was instructed to. Growing up on my family's farm, from a young age, everyone simply helped out. I was assigned chores that were age appropriate. Some of my first memories are of going along to help feed cattle. I went along with Mom to collect eggs, candle them (check them for cracks and imperfections), weigh them, and package them, when I was in kindergarten. I was Dad's "helper", accompanying him on many trips for parts to local farm equipment dealers. My grandfather's brother, Uncle Johnny, taught me how to bottle feed calves when I was 8. Grandpop sat me up on the fence and told me to remember the eartag numbers of all the heifers that were "giving piggy back rides" when I was 9. I didn't figure out until years later that I was actually doing heat detection for him. (A female bovine will stand to be ridden by herdmates when she is ready to be bred). I still smile at how Grandpop harnessed my overabundance of energy, and made me feel very important, even with that simple task. I was fortunate to learn from my parents and grandparents animal husbandry skills that had been passed down for generations.

Later in life, around the 6th grade, I realized that I was one of a very small minority. By 1990, farmers made up only 2% of the U.S. labor force ( I had a choice, I could either hide my agricultural roots, or take great pride in them. I chose the latter and spoke publicly in and out of the classroom about the importance and the impact that innovations in agriculture had made in our community and our economy.

By high school, it was my passion. I became spokesperson for the dairy industry and no longer just "in my blood", agriculture was my career of choice. I realized that mankind would always demand food and it seemed like a natural fit for me. I was excited about the job security and in the back of my mind, I knew it would please my family.

As I continued to college and graduate school, I was faced with the philosophical questions that education often brings. How will I leave this world a better place? What effect am I having on the earth, the environment, future generations, etc.? How can I make a difference? Agriculture still fit the bill. I was relieved in a way that I was still on the "right track", and that the cascade of decisions I had made to get to where I was were validated by additional knowledge. The success of our nation, and the health of our people and and the quality of our environment was based on our continued success in agriculture.

I had considered agriculture by the numbers, but the last, and most important piece of the puzzle didn't fall into place until I was faced with the biggest decision of my life. This decision caused me to reflect on all aspects my life and to define all my hopes for the future: Marriage.

Ask anyone who knows us, and they'll say that God brought Jeremy and I together. It couldn't have been anything else that put into action the chain of events that has gotten us to where we are today. Goodness knows as shy as he was, it took an act of God just to get him to finally ask me out :) We share the same passion for farming, and I'm grateful to be married to my best friend and faith partner.

After all things have been considered: my heritage in agriculture, the economics of agriculture and the career opportunities agriculture has presented, it comes down to this.

God has called me to farm. I know in my heart that it is my purpose in life. He created a hierarchy, where animals were created as a source of nourishment for humans and He gave us the ability to develop technology to feed His people so we can serve Him.

I have leaned upon two verses when faced with challenges and challengers that may cause me to question why I farm.

"...Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Genesis 1:28, New International Version)

"Be careful to follow the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever." (1 Chronicles 28:8, New International Version)

THAT is why I farm.

To all who have encouraged me on my journey, THANK YOU, especially Grandpop, one of my greatest mentors, and my best friend and husband, Jeremy (see pictures above).

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