I was raised on a farm. My father was not sure about farming early in his working life, but decided on it when I was just a toddler. I eventually grew just big and strong enough to be somewhat helpful in the work that had to be done. We didn’t have a tremendously large operation, but sizable enough to keep myself, my Dad, my Mom, my brother and some other seasonal help plenty busy through most of the year. At the peak, I’d say we had a few hundred acres of corn and soybeans, maybe ten acres of burley tobacco, a couple dozen hogs and about the same number of beef cattle.
My job varied from day to day, but I generally found myself on the seat of a tractor tending to ground prep for corn or soybeans. The job was not tremendously stimulating, but ended up being a great test of mental endurance. Additionally, it gave me a lot of time to think about things. I was never a good fit for the farm, but I didn’t hate it. It gave me a certain inner peace that I still long for today. It was clear from an early age that my career would be something far removed from raising crops and livestock, but I made the most of the experience. Today, I feel that the work ethic instilled in me from the farming childhood is the most valuable part of my personal history.
I never had any intention of following the farming legacy of my family. Even if I had, economics has made the success of the small-scale farmer nearly impossible. However, I look back on my days on the farm with a lot more fondness than I did during my youth. The sweet simplicity of producing a basic necessity for the entire population is not well enough respected in our society for the true value it represents. Very few people today have a good appreciation for what has happened to put the food on the plates that they eat multiple times each day.