When I chose a house to buy in Indiana, I wanted to at least feel country. And while I’m in a subdivision, I think I did pretty well. There is a corn field at the end of our road. Tractors regularly travel down the nearest main road. And it’s blissfully quiet out here.
It wasn’t until harvest started that I realized just how far away I am from the farm.
When I lived on the farm, I spent weekends in the combine. I regularly cooked dinner and delivered it to the field. I knew how many acres were left daily. I chatted with our truck driver. I saw dad bring home corn and soybeans right from the field.
I lived the farm on a daily basis, even if I didn’t work there full time.
Things are much, much different now. Mom stills sends me daily acre totals. And plenty of photos. I visit every couple weeks. Yet I haven’t even seen the combine this year. I have no idea which field they’re working in. I feel totally separated from all of it.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my life and I feel incredibly blessed. And I’m still passionate about agriculture. It’s just that I feel disconnected from the daily grind.
And yet the situation gives me a greater appreciation for how people even more removed must feel. Most people don’t have a direct link with farm-family members. They might see equipment on the road, but they have little awareness of the current work being accomplished. They’re able to exist in a world completely separated from dirt, tractors, and crops.
In all honesty, this is close to my usual experience with animal agriculture. I drink plenty of milk and eat more than enough cheese. But I don’t see what those farmers do on a regular basis. I don’t fully appreciate the toil and costs of making that dream possible.
So it’s safe to say I have a new-found empathy for our non-farm counterparts, especially for people who have absolutely no agriculture connection. I understand better why we need to reach them and have conversations with them. We can’t expect anyone to trust us or our industry when such a lifestyle feels a million miles away.