A while back I was asked by an ag teacher to describe for his students just what it takes to become a farmer. I had to think about that because my first thought was “money – lots of money.”

I wanted to say, “Win the lottery and then finance farming as a hobby!”

Then I remembered, nobody gets anywhere with a negative attitude so we need to encourage these young people who are our hope of the future. After all, I want to eat real food in the future, not plastic cheese, protein pellets and calcium tablets.

As I see it, a farmer needs to be risk oriented.

Was I risk oriented when I agreed to go into farming five years after we were married?

Sure I was. Why else was I willing to walk down an aisle behind the cows, knowing full well that at any moment one of those tail-raising critters could cough. Any good ag student knows what happens when cows cough.

Anyone baling hay on hillsides needs to be risk-oriented. And isn’t it risky to walk in among a group of 20 lively 800-pound heifers to try to single out the two that are in heat and get them into the barn for breeding?

Then there is another bit of advice I thought might be helpful. Work together as husband-wife team. It worked for us.

I’d set the alarm, he turned it off. I drive the tractor, he fixes it. I’d bale the hay. He picked up the lost bales.

Working as a team also means checking and questioning decisions to be sure the facts are weight carefully.

We always did that. He would say, “Go to town for parts.” I’d say, “Why?”

He’d say, “Someone should pick stones today.” I’d say, “Who is someone?”

He’d say, “We should take a weekend off once.” I’d say, “Let’s go!”

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