When Agriculture Tests Your Faith
Happy National Ag Day! Even though on the farm every day is Ag Day, I do love seeing the outpouring of support shown to all sectors of agriculture one day a year. And there are so many things to love: a favorite cotton t-shirt, an apple a day, your family’s live Christmas tree, and a perfectly grilled steak are all some of my favorite ag products. And bacon. Can’t forget bacon. But as much as I love being involved in farming and ranching there are just days When Agriculture Tests Your Faith.
When Agriculture Tests Your Faith: Mother Nature
No matter how much farmers and ranchers try to make ends meet, so many things are out of their control.
I’ve seen planting seasons where it seems like the rain may never stop long enough to get seed in the ground.
Just for mother nature to turn around and shut off the water spout for days, weeks, and months. Shriveling crops, drying livestock ponds, and increasing risks of wildfires.
Blizzards and cold weather that push livestock and their care givers to extremes.
And bumper crops decimated by a late season hail storm.
When Agriculture Tests Your Faith: Long Hours
I don’t know a farmer or rancher around who doesn’t push themselves to exhaustion working long and irregular hours. Agriculture is not a profession that works a regular 8-5, five days a week.
Paul Harvey said it best in his poem “So God Made a Farmer”:
And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.
Farmers and ranchers are up before the sun milking cows, skipping meals around the dinner table with their families, “running” well past midnight hauling in grain at harvest time, and waking every two hours to go night check the heifers during calving season.
When Agriculture Tests Your Faith: Money Matters
Like any business, increasing income and decreasing expenses are what keep things afloat.
But for the most part, ag producers have no way of setting prices for their products. They are at the mercy of the commodity markets.
Late nights sitting at the kitchen table shuffling through piles of bills, seeing how far the check from the last load of corn you took to town can stretch over the feed bill and monthly health insurance cost. Praying that the old combine can hold together through another harvest with no major repairs needed and your son’s baseball cleats can last another season.
When Agriculture Tests Your Faith: The Circle of Life
Agriculture has taught me many valuable lessons throughout my years on the farm.
The importance of wearing jeans when baling hay (no matter how hot it is).
“The birds and the bees” (life on the farm man).
The importance of a neighborhood watch (aka the dreaded phone call “Hey! Did y’all know you have cows out?”)
And one of it’s hardest lessons, The Circle of Life.
No matter how much blood, sweat, and tears farmers and ranchers put into caring for their livestock, at some point loosing an animal happens: a fox gets into the hen house, the favorite farm cat mysteriously vanishes, or a hard pulled calf only survives a few minutes.
And another quote from Mr. Paul Harvey:
God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.'”
When Agriculture Tests Your Faith: “For Everything There Is A Season”
But just like in school, at some point the test is over.
After a drought, rains come and wash the world anew.
Even if family, friends, and neighbors aren’t able to lend money of their own because they too are in a financial pinch. Those involved in agriculture are always there to lend a helping hand in any way they can. Sometimes it’s offering to bring extra food and good cow horses to a neighbor’s branding. Sometimes it is helping harvest a farmer’s final crop for his elderly widow. And sometimes its just being a person to talk to over a beer or two on the tailgate of a pickup.
Life comes from death. Where fires have burned, greener more vibrant grass takes its place.
And long hours spent either on horseback or on the seat of a tractor, can be capped off with some stellar sunsets.
He will give rain for the seed
that you sow in the ground,
And the wheat that the soil produces
will be rich and abundant.
On that day your cattle will graze
in spacious meadows.