Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.” These geniuses are the farmers, the unsung heroes of our country. Though I formerly had an aversion of them, I have developed a remarkable affinity for those once called, “hicks” because they are among America’s hardest workers. I have been surrounded by the agricultural standard of living my entire life, wishing I was born in a big city, but only recently have I been blessed to come to the realization of my deepest appreciation for their occupation.
Taylorsville, my noteworthy hometown, has demonstrated the sole beauty of the American farmer. You must first understand the merit of my town. It is so tiny it does not even have its own post office. The composition includes houses, farmland, a liquor store, a country and garden store, a pub, three gas stations, and a video store, where the movies are rather outdated and do not even carry DVDs. You are bound to see one of your acquaintances upon a visit to any of these places. Many people live within three miles of their extended families and most of them work on the farm together. At the front door of almost every agricultural household, there is a shotgun and/or rifle, greeting the guests and intruders. In addition, every family owns a bb gun with which the children have shot at random animals for hunting target practice.
Every brother and father have, at least, one camouflage suit for the habitual hunting outings. Common apparel at the local high school football game is a Carharrt jacket and slim fitting wranglers or Levi overalls with a plaid flannel shirt underneath. (If you do not have your own cowboy hat, then it is apparent that you must have moved here recently.) On the weekends, troublesome teenagers relish in cow-tipping, bowling (not cosmic-mind you), spying on their friends, taking part in underage drinking at bonfires and field parties, or trespassing at a farm to swim in the lake with their own epidermis only. A night out on the town includes a movie at the theater 15 miles away and then consists of walking to dinner at Denny’s. Every home and farm has, at least, one John Deere, because after all nothing runs like a Deer. Finally, the one event that placed my hometown in the history books occurred in 2002. That was when the thoroughbred horse, “Magic Weisner,” who was born and raised at Shamrock Farm in tiny Taylorsville, won first place at the Kentucky Derby. Shamrock Farm is owned by Dan Rooney, the owner of the Steelers and serves as the largest farm in our county. Side note: One of the sons of the family that lived on Shamrock farm became one of the most popular guys in school after that. He was elected our Homecoming King and I was so honored (and cooler by association obviously) to be his date that season.
Now, having this upbringing has taught me a sincere admiration for farmers. I have come to respect the local farmer for providing our nation with nourishment. He has one of the most tiring and taxing professions in the world because he works up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and cannot take sick leave or vacation. He is solely responsible for the farm’s survival economically and thus, his paycheck is tied directly to how successful a farmer he is. That farmer is talented and risks everything to feed us. Large farmers compete by quality, technology, and economics of scale to stay in the overproducing market. Beef, pork, milk, chicken, corn, wheat, and soybeans are essentially the same commodity price as 25 years ago. But what have the prices of cars, homes, land, machinery, college tuition, health care, and everything else done besides dramatically increase?
Farmers are devoted to politics because they have an extreme concern for our country’s welfare, especially the agricultural development and preservation. Much congressional legislation directly affects their livelihood. They are ethical, God-fearing citizens who work day in and day out diligently in every climate. Rain makes grain and the lack of rainfall across the country results in disappointing returns for many producers. In addition, farmers are the eternal optimists. It is the farmers who live the problem, gain benefits and suffers the consequences because they ultimately integrate matters of increasing productivity, stabilizing fertilizers, and pesticide usage, run-off pollution, combined with meteorologically uncertain conditions.
Farming is so complex today that only a select few of the total population could succeed in the occupational field. The general public is trained or goes to college to specialize in a specific job. However, today’s American Farmer has to have innumerable skills in a multitude of professions to be successful in our fast-changing world. For example, he has to be a mechanic to repair malfunctioning equipment because time is money in the fields and missing a piece of machinery in the fields is costly. In addition, he must have an eclectic expertise in welding, accounting, farm law, politics, wildlife, construction, animal husbandry, corporate executive matters, marketing, entomology, plant pathology, plumbing, electricity, research science, and chemistry. Farmers are not your typical Wall Street businessmen, but they are their own executives in overalls.
The average farm family living cost is $40,000-$47,000 per year, requiring $225,000-$300,000 gross revenue. Only fourteen percent of the Unites States farms generate more than $100,000 in gross income a year.
Henry David Thoreau once said “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” This quote is hardly the mantra of farmers because of all the factors affecting their success. They are the epitome of taking something complicated and making it look simple. Knowing some of them, I have learned success is not defined by how much money you make, or how much your car costs, but how the greater good is benefited through their valiant efforts. They continue to uphold traditional American values. Farmers are beyond American’s urban intelligence because of their agricultural advancements and knowledge. People need to condone their inane stereotypical image of the average farmer. Instead, they should cease in vilifying them and start honoring them. Only then, will America converge in gratitude for their assiduous work. My only question of confusion of this cultural appreciation is when will our nation acknowledge their greatness? I excitedly wait for the day that the American farmer is the TIME Magazine’s Man of the Year, just as the
was depicted in 2004. Though they are unfortunately a dying breed, I have developed the utmost respect and admiration for my Taylorsville neighbors, the American farmers, by witnessing their prolific, adaptive, and adept skills.
Written in Fall of 2004 for college admission essays, including the University of Maryland, College Park, where I was accepted and chose to go for 4 years.