Last Saturday night, I had an opportunity to speak at the Barnes County Farm Bureau annual meeting. I don’t think I’ve spoken at a county annual meeting since about  1999 or 2000. It was the Towner County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Cando. I don’t even remember the topic, but I think I tried to be humorous, talking about how I came from a Farmers Union family. (When I got the job with Farm Bureau, I didn’t realize the difference in philosophy.) I don’t remember if I was successful or not. (But I was never asked back, so maybe that’s a clue, eh?)

I do, however, remember I practiced my “speech” all the way there. Fast forward 15 or 16 years and I’m still practicing my “speech” in the car, all the way there.

But when I got to the Barnes County Farm Bureau meeting, I realized that maybe the “speech” I had practiced needed to be more of a heart-felt talk about sharing personal stories about why farmers and ranchers farm and ranch.

In fact, I pulled out the “I farm because” postcards that we made up for Farm Bureau Week last March and said, “Take the time to fill this out and even if you don’t share it with me, share it with someone.”

Why? Because “Once upon a time, a farmer said, ‘I farm because I want to make the land unusable for the next generation, and I want to drain all the potholes so the ducks have no place to land.’ ”

Said. No. Farmer. Ever!

The point I was trying to make was that too many people who DON’T farm believe the fairy tale. And so many farmers are private by nature, so people tend believe the loudest voice even if it is a totally inaccurate, bordering on ludicrous voice.

When I went through all the postcards I received from that “I farm because,” exercise, how many of them do you think said, “I farm because I want to be rich.” Not one.

Everyone used terms like “passion for taking care of the land,” and “values and responsibilities,” and “there is no better feeling than watching your crops grow.”

This one is actually my very favorite…

I love the farm

Yep. Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Farming is a business, yes, and farmers need to be profitable to stay in business, but it isn’t profit that drives them. It is a connection with the soil, with the animals, with the sense of responsibility for future generations.

And hey, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your voice with others, I’d be happy to come out and video tape you. Just drop me a line. And just so you know what you are getting into, here are the #ifarmbecause interviews we have already taped: #ifarmbecause NDFB YouTube playlist.  I’m always looking for more!

Overheard in the field

My coworker, Lisa, and I had an opportunity to interview four life-long friends: Shirley Dvorak and Shar Tuhy, and Gene Dvorak and Jerry Tuhy. And yes, Gene and Shirley are married. And Jerry and Shar are married. North of 40 years a piece.

I can’t even begin to share how incredibly fortunate I was to talk with them and be able to share their story. Well, part of their story, anyway. I’m finding it hard to cram all I want to share about them in the two-minute time frame media pundits say video needs to be to keep people’s attention.

I might go long with the video. I can’t make any promises. There is this one clip, however, that isn’t going to make it into the video, but it’s a nice stand-alone piece that demonstrates the breadth of the Dvorak-Tuhy friendship.

You can’t take the farm out of the girl

IMG_2436A coworker sent me photos and video from a visit back to the farm where she grew up. That’s her, sitting in the extra seat in the cab of the combine.

She remembers growing up on the farm. How her dad tested the wheat for moisture by how well he could make “wheat gum.” (Oh my gosh, when she told me that, it TOTALLY took me right back to being a kid on the farm and how I used to chew my own wheat gum!!) She remembers how dirty you got on the tractor or combine or swather because NOBODY had cabs back then. But mostly, she remembers family. How farming was so much a family thing.

And now, her nephew is the fourth generation on the farm, and you know what he remembers? His grandpa farming and how he loved to tag along and be in the field and how he is carrying on that tradition with his family.

As she talked, I found myself choking up a little. That’s because even though I have been away for the farm for 35 years, and I have raised a family on a 2-acre plot of land, there is nothing like going back to the farm. That’s why it is such a joy when Farm Bureau members share their farms and ranches with us through this blog, our publications and video. I love the whole experience. It really takes me back to my childhood and home.

Because you really can’t take the farm out of the girl.

To listen to the short interview I did with Val, click here. (Downloads an mp3 audio).