Written by Billie Ingalls
I haven’t been in agriculture long, but I can tell you that I’ve learned a tremendous amount in just a short amount time about the farming lifestyle and the industry as a whole. It wasn’t until I met with college friends and talked with acquaintances about harvest or cattle, that I realized how much my life had changed, because my conversation had changed. I got a lot of blank stares and questions because they didn’t understand what went into everyday life for a farmer.
So here is just a tiny snippet of what a day in the life of living on a farm is like:
- Boots are not just for style: Don’t get me wrong, I love a cute pair of cowboy boots, but man was I wrong about them. I wear mine almost every day now, because I can go from the office to feeding cattle and hauling hay. You never know when you’re going to need to have a pair of boots on.
- You live life based on the weather: If that field isn’t done strip tilling before tomorrow’s rain, there’s no going to game night with friends or that movie you wanted to go to.
- Meal times: On the farm, chores and animals come before you do, so sometimes dinner is cold and not until 9:00 in the evening. And sometimes your lunch break consists of running out to the field to corral a cow back in the pasture, because they found a weak spot in the electric fence. Tupperware is also your main dishware. I can’t tell you how many meals we’ve had out of Tupperware during the busy season. It’s amazing to open your Tupperware and realize the food inside still has some warmth to it.
- Date night: Date night has a whole new meaning when you’re dating a farmer. If I want to see my fiancé during planting and harvest, I pack up a meal for us and sit in the tractor with him so we can catch up on life.
- You live life last-minute: It is impossible to make plans with people. Sometimes plans get canceled because a cow went into labor and sometimes they’re made last-minute because it rained. There are times you have to drop everything and run parts out to the field, because the tractor broke down, or they need you to fill in somewhere. You live life on each minute of every day.
- Special Occasions: I’m currently planning a wedding, and when things got a little jumbled with setting a date, someone mentioned to me, “Why not October? It’s a pretty time of year and your fiancé can take a least a week off of harvest, right?” I laughed and said no because it is near impossible for a farmer to even take a couple hours off of harvest, let alone a whole week. Sometimes living on a farm means sacrificing special occasions and times of the year because harvest season and planting doesn’t stop and wait for you, especially in the Midwest. You never truly know how many days you have left until the snow arrives.
- Alone Time: Whether it’s time alone with yourself or alone time with that special person, they both have a new meaning. When it’s planting and harvest season, farmers are out in the field from sunrise to well past sunset. I had much more alone time and time spent dog sitting or taking care of other chores. When you get alone time with that special person, whether it’s sitting in the combine with them or sitting outside with them while they’re working on a tractor, cherish that small amount of time, even if it is spent talking about the weather and farming.
- The inevitable happens: Just like unexpected moments in life, the same happens in farming. Sometimes a calf doesn’t make it, even though you did everything to save her and slept in the barn over night to watch over her. Sometimes a tornado or damaging weather takes a hit on your crop and it’s gone. In farming, it not only hits you emotionally, but it can hit you financially when this is your career.
- Farming is more than just being in the field: Having been both on the business side of agriculture and the farming side, it is an amazing in-depth industry. These people have a vast amount of knowledge in agriculture, business, chemistry, technology, meteorology and more. Many times the world overlooks the dedication and challenge these growers are committed to overcoming every month of every season. More times than none, growers are criticized more than thanked in their line of work. It’s much more than just driving a tractor in the field. Growers meet all around the world with other growers to learn and teach one another on how they can improve the quality of their operation to produce safe and healthful food for everyone.
From a new farmer to a non-farmer, if you’re presented with the opportunity to visit a farm and experience a day in the life, I encourage you to do so. Whether you’re sitting in a tractor, helping feed animals, or chat with an agronomist in a business meeting, I can almost promise you that you’ll have a new type of appreciation and perspective for this line of work.
Just as you’d trust a doctor with your health, or pilot to get you safely to your destination, remember to trust a farmer with the growth and production of your food. They are experts in their field with generations of experience and care.
Some days it’s hard on the farm when it’s rainy, the pipe froze to the cattle’s water line, or the tractor broke down, but every job has those hard days. Yet regardless of those tough days on the farm, it’s a life I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Billie graduated from Bethel University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication & Marketing studies. She grew up in rural northwest Wisconsin surrounded by more trees than cornfields but enjoys the new view. During her senior year of college, she took a special interests test resulting in being told she would be a great fit in the agriculture industry. Ignoring it, she moved to the city instead and pursued a job in radio advertising. After a few months, she realized it wasn’t for her and found her passion in agriculture. Billie joined the Asmus Farm Supply team in the Spring of 2016 and enjoys spending her free time reading, being outdoors and learning more about how she can be a voice for the farming community.