Why Planting Season Stinks in College

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It’s nearing the first of May. And for all farm kids, farmers, and farm wives that brings a LOT more than just a month left of school and summer quickly approaching. It doesn’t just imply April showers bring May flowers, either. It means long nights, early mornings, and seeing more “dirt” and seed than people. For most, the tractor seat turns into your best friend, and you listen to more radio than ever before. Yet, the chores at home, homework, and meals still have to happen, and it takes a saint to run food to the field for every meal and please cranky farmers with entrees that can be eaten with one hand in a bumpy field.

Yet, where do the next generation of farmers, who are off at college, fit into this jigsaw puzzle that we lovingly call spring planting? It’s rough being a farm kid in a college town. The professors, school, and classmates just don’t seem to understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go into planting, much less how much we love it. It’s not just about getting the last field worked or seed in the ground; it’s about what will happen in the fall. How you think the harder you work to make planting go smoothly the better the chances at the biggest yield.

Being away at school takes almost all of the fun out of it, though. You can’t smell the freshly turned dirt or rip open a bag of seed every day and night. The phone calls are more frequent as we constantly want to know what’s going on at the farm and how many acres are left. We count the days till Friday in hopes that the rain will hold off, and we too can get a little tractor time. I don’t think it has ever been so hard to be away.

The deep passion that runs in farm kid’s blood is unmatched. Who else can say that they drive home for the weekend to get covered in dust or sit in a tractor for 12 hours straight? It’s not all about being there for the process; it’s being involved in the family legacy and taking on more of the responsibility, in hopes of showing dad or grandpa that we want to be just like them. While the stress of planting season isn’t easy for those at home on the farm, it’s even harder to be away.

 

Day 21: show and tell

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What if every farm was an open place, for all people to go and learn. If you could just call and set up an appointment to visit the places that your food comes from. Maybe this whole idea isn’t possible, but bits and pieces of it are. For instance, in our county every year the children in second grade have ag in the classroom. This allows them to learn about all things ag, and in the spring they all take a field trip to the county fairgrounds where farmers bring an animal for the children to see and learn about, as well as ask questions.

I have personally been able to take a cow to this “Ag Safety Day” multiple times, and I love teaching the students about my animals. The questions that the second graders come up with can range from silly, like if cows can get married, to serious, like how do they actually make the milk. I think that it is important to teach the children at an early age about agriculture and where their food comes from, because in the near future they will be making purchasing decisions.

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Another way for farmers to bring the public to their farms, is to allow schools to take tours. I know that we have had kindergarten and preschool classes come to watch us milk before. It’s great to watch how the little kids enjoy seeing the baby calves and the milking process. It’s something that they will go home to their parents and talk about for hours.

As dairy farmers, it is our job to interact with the public, and show them the processes and the reasons that we use the procedures that we do. It is our job to market our product and farms to show the consumers the time and care that we put into producing “nature’s purest drink.” One woman, that I believe is doing an excellent job of painting the picture of what dairy farmers do each and everyday, is Dairy Carrie. She not only explains how her family operates their farm, but she also talks about the important issues related to ag and dairy. We need more people like her around to help AGvocate our message to the consumers.

At times, I feel that all of the blame is put on consumers, that they don’t do enough to get informed, to know where their food really comes from. Maybe this needs to be looked at in a different light, what have the farmers done to show the consumers of their product how they produce it, where it comes from, and how much time and care they put into making it? I think the farmer should be somewhat credible for showing the consumers and public the blessing of what they do every day, and all the work they put into growing their product.

Day 20: Home is where the heart is, home is where the cows are

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Tomorrow I get to go home. I haven’t been there in two whole weeks. Which to most college students probably doesn’t seem like much time away, but to me it seems like a century. You see, living only an hour and fifteen minutes away makes it pretty easy to go home every weekend. At this point the drive doesn’t really even seem that long.

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The cow lot

Going home means so many things to me, of course it means getting to see my family, and my boyfriend. But it also means I get to see all the progress that has happened since I’ve been away, like the fields freshly harvested and the black dirt turned over. Or the newest baby calves, and what their mammas look like after losing all that baby weight. To me going home lets me be a part of my family’s lifestyle, and our family business. Going home means helping and laughing and being a team, that’s the only way anything gets accomplished on a farm anyway.

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For years I’ve heard Mom or Dad telling people on the phone how to get to our house, “bedford stone house with two stave silos, you can’t miss it.” And that really does describe it, but to me it’s so much more.

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The Parlor

Grammy and PawPaw built the house when my Aunts and Dad were little. We moved into the house when PawPaw took a step back from the farm and Dad began to take more responsibility. I’m sure that my Aunts have their fair share of memories that come running back whenever they are over. I know that our family has our own. From the time that I played with hot peppers from the garden on the big well block, and couldn’t see straight for a couple of hours. When Santa brought us girls a swimming pool for Christmas and all the summers we’ve spent in it with each other and our friends. The three of us girls and Dad will never be able to forget the rat invasion out at the heifer shed, and I think we all secretly hope that we can try that again.

There are also some bad memories that I associate with home, like watching my cow Butter-finger pass away out on the dirt pasture. The countless baby calves that are stillborn, or the cows that die while giving birth. These setbacks make it hard to want to finish chores, yet we do every time.

Dairy farming isn’t easy, and I think that’s why the farm means so much to me. It’s more than a house a shed and some barns, it’s where the Telgmann family established a legacy. Where the Char-La-Don prefix was first started, where dairy-farming was etched into each one of us. It’s a true blessing to have grown up on the farm, I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.