The Heart of a Farmer…

My husband would tell you that he majored in engineering because that was the department at Dartmouth that had the best toys.  When we graduated from school and moved back to the family farm in Nebraska, he put his engineering knowledge to work with lots of really big toys.

One of the first major decisions that Matt made when we moved back to the farm was to purchase a big alfalfa harvester.  It looks ALOT different than the horse drawn equipment that I shared pictures of on Tuesday…

I have met many farmers over the past 16 years—every single one of them is enamored with equipment.  It does not seem to matter if it is a horse drawn plow or a thirty foot disk pulled by a 290 horse power tractor, it pulls them in like a powerful magnet.

5 beautiful draft horses pull a small plow through an old alfalfa field…

Two blondes, 290 modern “horses” and a 30 foot disk…The equipment looks a bit different than the draft horses and one foot disk pictured above!

This fascination with machinery seems to go hand in hand with a borderline obsession with Mother Nature.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit with a farmer, the conversation will flow easily if you ask about either the weather or a machine.  I like to tease my husband about this, but if you substitute the word “cattle” for “machine”, I seem to be just as guilty as he is…

My girls are used to dinner conversations that revolve around the weather, our cattle, our crops and our machinery. They have an understanding for where their food comes from and an inherent trust that it is grown by someone who cares…

Last weekend, as I watched the equipment used to harvest alfalfa in the first half of the 1900’s, I was struck by the realization that farmers are intricately linked with both their machines and Mother Nature.  The three make a partnership that ebbs and flows in a constant search for balance.

It brings him a sense of peace when he works the land.  His grandpa used different tools than he does, but they share the same goal…

Technology as it pertains to agriculture and farming is a current buzz topic.  City dwellers may ask why a farmer needs a huge machine to plant, grow and harvest crops while a rural farmer may ask why the type and size of machine defines whether or not he is an actual farmer. 

Matt turned to me the other night after reading an article on the internet and said, “I do not understand why having a big tractor makes me less of a farmer.  The plants that I grow still provide food, and I still work the land.  Isn’t that what makes a farmer?”

His comment got me to thinking about what really is the heart of a farmer.  What defines him?  Perhaps almost more importantly, is this definition consistent over time and cultures?

Matt had never met this older gentleman before but, despite the difference in age, they still share a bond that leads to an easy conversation over an old piece of equipment…

Matt defines a farmer as someone who works the land to grow food.  In his heart lies the desire to bring life to the soil and harvest that life to provide for those in need.  Interestingly enough, older generations of local farmers answer that question in much the same way.

Larger equipment and a more advanced transportation system has enabled the farmers of Matt’s generation to provide on a global scale in addition to a local and national scale, but the heart of the farmer is still the same.

These two images belong in different periods of time…

What I witnessed last weekend at the antique farm demonstration strengthened my belief that while technology evolves and machines change, the heart of the person operating the machine is constant.  That heart holds a love for the land and a love of bringing life to that land that is much larger than the amount of steel required to build the toys that work the land…

What do you think defines a farmer?


Filed under Farming, General

2 responses to “The Heart of a Farmer…

  1. MeganS

    Love this! While I am now a bit removed from my family farm and ranch by miles of highway, I still love to dig in the dirt around my house. And truly I think all ways of working the land are fun. Love horses and find the more “primitive” way of farming really cool but oh my it is neat to sit in a big tractor too! My Dad got his first green (color!) tractor a couple of years ago. The pride I saw him have in that machine was really neat. I took pictures of him and his grandkids all over that tractor. This past Summer at our annual family get together, they pulled out the first tractor my Grandfather ever purchased. The photos I have of the great grandkids with the tractor are priceless.

    • Megan,

      I am so glad that you enjoyed the post. You are right, there is something very soothing about digging in the dirt and making things grow and come to life!

      I enjoy watching Matt and his dad share their love of farming and equipment with our girls, just as you describe your dad sharing with his grandkids. The memories that families make together are priceless.

      Thanks so much for sharing,

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