My husband saw it first. Then he beckoned to me. As I entered my daughter’s bedroom, he pulled open the window blinds. Since her room overlooks the back pasture, I knew the view was not going to be good. There, sprawled out on the ground, was a dead ewe.
I was already dressed for Sunday morning church service. My husband and I were scheduled to watch over the children in the nursery. Unfortunately, my husband had to change his plans. He put on his coveralls, donned his muck boots and headed out the door to bury the older ewe.
There are many times I think the farmer needs a sign that reads, “We interrupt this weekend for farming.” While consumers are catching up on their sleep during the weekend, farmers are busy caring for the animals and land.
As livestock producers, there are times that birthday parties, wedding receptions, and family gatherings go unattended. The farmer must stay behind to usher in a new life of a calf, milk the cow, round up the stray pigs on the road (yes, that happened on that same Sunday), or bury the ewe.
But the livestock farmer is not the only one making a sacrifice. There are plenty of grain farmers who miss a child’s school assembly, parent-teacher conference or football game.
I often wonder as I head out for weekend chores, if those outside of agriculture fully understand all the sacrifices made to put food on the table. With so many consumers at least three generations removed from the farm, it is hard to explain the magnitude of responsibility that comes with every day farm life. It is not a five-day workweek, nor is it a 40-hour week vocation. It is a job that requires the farmer to be on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week. If you think about it, the farmer is the original “Weekend Warrior.”
But, would the farmer want it any other way? Would the farmer want to drive to the city, sit in a cubicle and fight traffic on the way home?
No. The farmer, like urbanites, loves his or her occupation. The farmer enjoys a long night spent harvesting corn, an early morning delivering lambs, or an afternoon feeding calves. Likewise, the farmer’s wife, sons and daughters understand the duty to care for the livestock or crops. They are proud of their role model, caretaker and food provider—even if it means he will miss some family events.
So, here is hoping that America’s consumer will begin to understand that the life of the farmer does not stop for weekends. Because when the consumer asks how the food made it to the table on Sunday morning, the farmer can truly say, “it happened while you were sleeping.”