The Power of Farming Communities

I’m always amazed when I hear about farming communities pulling together for one of their own.

Not surprised – amazed. Awestruck. Inspired. But never surprised.

It’s a thought that keeps coming back to me this week, as I listen to friends with farming backgrounds share their stories of tragedy and comradery. One, another South Dakota native, relayed how neighbors immediately and unquestioningly took over caring for the family’s livestock after her father-in-law was severely hit by a distracted driver. She and her husband had not even reached the hospital when they received the unexpected phone call from the neighbor that the equipment was put away because of the coming snow, and yes, the hogs were taken care of for the night, and for tomorrow, and for as long as they needed help, so don’t worry about a thing. Now, as her father-in-law works through his second major surgery and faces a lengthy rehabilitation, their tight-knit farming community continues to pull together to ensure the family farm is taken care of and the family can spend time with their recovering farmer.

Another farming friend shared how her family was called late at night this week by a neighbor who thought their cattle were out near the highway in Yankton. After spending 30 minutes frantically driving along the highway with flashers on and spotlights in hand and multiple trips of heading back to the farm to count their cows, they discovered it was not their herd that was on the loose. Still, although the hour was late and they were exhausted with kids in tow, they continued to drive for miles, searching for tracks and hoping to help another farm family bring their livelihood home safely and prevent a possible accident from occurring.

As my friend later mused on Facebook, “The moral of the story is, farming families – whether close or acquaintances – are all looking out for each other and respect the lifestyle. They help when in need and they deeply care for each other!”

It’s something I see again and again in our own small farming community, and it doesn’t take a tragic accident or a crisis for farmers to come together to help each other. There are a number of young farmers in our area who are always willing to help each other, never expecting anything in return and often when they themselves have more than enough work to do. It’s heartwarming and humbling, and it makes you cherish the small-town environment around you. We are so blessed to have neighbors who offer help without question when we are in need.

The moral of the story is, farming families – whether close or acquaintances – are all looking out for each other and respect the lifestyle. They help when in need and they deeply care for each other!

As a soon-to-be mother, I couldn’t be happier and prouder that my son will be raised in this lifestyle. It’s one thing to talk about the virtues of sacrifice, kindness and community, and another to actually see these principles lived out on a daily basis. During a time when even turning on the local news can be stressful and terrifying for parents-to-be, it’s heartening to see that your children will grow up surrounded by men and women of great character.

I’ll admit – when I first moved to the farm, I remember not always understanding why Dan had to work late or leave dinner early to help a neighbor, particularly when the need didn’t seem incredibly urgent and I was feeling lonely and alone on the farm.  I remember Dan repeatedly telling me, “It’s the neighborly thing to do, honey,” until it finally clicked. Farm families are in this together. We depend upon each other, and we help each other during the good times and the bad. Not because it’s going to help us later on, but because it’s the right thing – the neighborly thing – to do.

So no, I’m not surprised when I hear about these acts of kindness and sacrifice from our farm families. But I am inspired.

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