A Bridge Back. A Way Forward.
Journal Date: 9/21/2013, the last calendar date of summer, Saturday
It has rained all morning, and I’m glad. We haven’t had any rain for about a month. Mowing the lawn is like reenacting the Dust Bowl. Passing by my Rose of Sharon shrub sends my memory back to high school and The Grapes of Wrath.
After the early part of summer gave us too much rain – too much for a farmer trying to grow crops and too much for families wanting to head to the pool regularly – we were happy to have a few drier days. I must say these late summer dry days stretched a bit longer than suited the farmers, but then the weather is always a topic of discussion and critique amongst them.
Indeed, this was an unusually cool, wet summer for the southeast, and I enjoyed it. Had it been sweltering and dry, I probably would have lost my mind. What with all the brown recluse spiders infesting my cottage, the main farmhouse requiring some remodeling, my husband’s business not slowing down as it usually does midsummer, and working on launching this blog – a heat wave would have done me in.
Formerly – as in life before marriage to a farmer – I would not have noticed the weather and any affect it had on my goings on. As a middle class-grocery shopping-air conditioned human, tracking the weather was an occasional wardrobe decision consideration, but nothing more.
In fact, nothing more characterizes my basic consideration of all things agricultural…formerly. The farms were pretty to drive by, but nothing more. The photos of rugged farmers and cowboys were handsome and nostalgic, but nothing more. The produce prices were a little high – late frost dates may have had an 8 second blurb on the news – but nothing more.
Then my husband walked into the church I attended. I felt him walk in. I was exultant.
“He is the one,” my 20-something soul hollered silently.
Yes, we holler (a shout with a drawl) in the South in church – some of us loudly – some of us silently. It all depends on your raisin’s. It’s not very romantic sounding, but that’s how it was when the farmer came along.
We married less than a year later, and I was tossed into the world of nothing more.
LOL. Bless my naïve little heart.
Imagine my surprise when I began married life as a 21st century farm bride – the surprise of finding out God asked Mike Rowe and Tyler Perry to write my script.
Think: Dirty Jobs meets Madea (and her memorable ways of making what really matters in life quite plain).
Word on my street is that Rowe and Perry work well together, but that’s a 20/20 hindsight observation in 2013. This wasn’t so clear when I was learning bovine biology firsthand – first forearm – never mind.
It especially wasn’t clear when the cows liked to move to the subdivision next door at night. Black cows are hard to see at night.
And, it was quite unclear, though ever hospitable, when I was meeting the members of my agriculture industry and trying to understand what they were saying. Simple vocabulary memorization doesn’t cut it when you want to converse knowledgably and fit in.
But the farmers were always kind and patient.
I love these men and women. I have grown to love them in a way only possible to an adult outsider who was patiently and respectfully integrated into her new culture by its natives. I was a wobbly-legged bride when I showed up at my ag-educated husband’s side. I wanted a quality life in this new world, and they didn’t laugh at me. Instead they answered questions and fielded my enthusiasm like good parents handle their little one’s zest for learning.
Believe me, I was exuberant – probably to the point of annoying – but the farmers never said a word. And now I feel very grown up after almost a decade of immersion with them. I’m feeling the “us factor” about this agricultural world. I appreciate it deeply, and I’d like to share it.
See, our farmers are not like the rest of us, and yet they are quite like us, really. Simply put, I think their primary distinction is that they haven’t moved on from what the majority of the world has done for a living for…well, forever. They have somehow figured out how to keep doing this ancient job in a modern world.
Often they farm and work an additional job, too. And then there’s this fun saying, “Behind every successful farmer is a wife who works in town.” LOL
After almost a decade of immersing myself in agriculture, I can say farmers are one of our best and brightest people groups on the planet. They are not our assumptions, nor our food angst, nor our nostalgic daydreams.
They are more and better and newer.
So, before I spend another decade soaking up this world of agriculture, living in a beautifully nostalgic place, accepting tight financial margins, bolstering courage to feed the world on barely 2% of the shoulders and backs available, and keeping it all to myself – I had better start a blog and start writing all this down.
Because I want to remember.*
Because I wish our farming ancestors had kept a journal for us.
Because I know our peers and our successors – on this plot of ground and on farms great & small everywhere – will appreciate a few notes of encouragement.
Because you are curious and you are welcome here.
Because I married an endangered species of sorts and documentation is needed here.
It’s my contribution to conservation…probably more of my sanity than his species.
Because I think farmers, by nature of the skill sets and temperaments most conducive to coaxing food from dirt, do not tend to try to wax eloquent online.
So before I forget what it was like to live formerly, I’ll journal here, and hope to create and maintain a bridge for memories, information and good conversation.
…hoping you’ll click over and enjoy a visit with your farmers.
…hoping future farmers will find encouragement and perspective here.
…hoping I’ll always remember the depth and joy this life has offered me.
Without further ado,
Welcome to Beef & Sweet Tea – a blog about a medium size 5th generation cattle farm in the Southeastern United States.
It’s a pleasure to meet you.
*Reasons for farmers to blog: This story is all mine, but my reasons are adapted from a lovely post by Judi over at FarmNWife. I read her Five Reasons Why Farmers Should Blog several months ago, and I’ve enjoyed letting Judi’s thoughts sink in and propel me to blog.
Judi helps farmers get their blogs going. If you are a farmer or anyone wanting to start a blog, Judi offers wonderful resources – all in one easy to navigate blog, FarmNWife.