So God Made a Farmer

This site is called “The Petite Farmstead,” and I occasionally call myself a farmer.  But I’m not a real farmer.  I love growing things, especially food, and my garden is much larger than average, but I am no farmer.  I have the joy and privilege of living amongst real farmers and ranchers, and they are truly the salt of the earth. 

god-made-a-farmer

I am honored to know these people. Farmers and ranchers are some of the most hard-working, generous, kind, and good people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Even though I grew up in Montana, I grew up in an industrial area, and didn’t know very many farmers and ranchers.  When I moved to Idaho, I had the pleasure of being immersed in their ways and their culture, and I love it.

A Day at the Ranch

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of riding along with a good friend of mine when she invited me to help her and her brother round up the last of the spring calves for branding and castrating (ouch!)  Johanna grew up on a ranch on the Idaho side of Jordan Valley, Oregon and her brother runs the ranch with her semi-retired father.  Her dad was born on the ranch in a log cabin.

She picked me up and we drove about an hour, first to the small town of Jordan Valley with its Basque influences evident in outdoor handball courts.  We turned left, back into Idaho, and the paved road became a winding dirt road.  Our destination was a small house in a picturesque valley with green meadows and rolling hills in the distance.  From the main house, you can see the original log cabin.

jv-ranch

 First, the calves were rounded up and roped one by one.  I was struck by the gentleness and care that these gruff-seeming guys handled these small animals.  A swift flick of a very sharp knife, a brief sizzle, and they were back with their mamas like nothing happened. 

roping-calves

After the work was over, we were treated to a real lunch (or “dinner” as some folk call it).  Delicious meatloaf made from home-raised beef, potatoes, veggies, and dessert; all prepared from scratch by my friend’s mother.   Karen is a tall, graceful woman in her early seventies.  She has spent her adult life as a rancher’s wife, mother, and grandmother, and she is beautiful.  I remember the first time I met her: she was lamenting the blisters on her feet from wearing her irrigating boots with her nylons.  She is a lady in the highest sense of the word — one that can also do any task that might be required of her on a large ranch.  Her home is simple, beautiful, warm, and tidy.

When the dishes were done, Johanna and I left the cheerful kitchen and headed down the hill to catch two horses for a short ride. Slim and Jiminy are two bay geldings in their early thirties.  Jiminy would be my ride for the afternoon.  He is a gentle soul, and one who didn’t seem to mind that it was my first time on a horse in nearly 15 years.

 riding-bareback

 After a short ride, we let Slim and Jiminy get back to grazing and took the 4 wheeler up to find the rest of the horses.  It was time for their West Nile vaccination, and before we could administer it, we had to search them out. 

We found them in a fragrant grove of Juniper trees.  There were Big and Blondie (a team of Belgians) along with an assortment of paint horses, thoroughly enjoying their freedom in the high desert terrain. 

paints-and-belgians

After vaccinating the horses, we headed back to the house and watched hummingbirds drink from the feeder while enjoying some iced tea.  It was a perfect day. 

hummingbird

So God Made a Farmer

Paul Harvey’s speech,”God Made a Farmer,” was the basis for one of the commercials featured during this year’s Super Bowl.  It brought tears to my eyes, not because of its romance, but because I am so blessed to know the people it speaks of.  It is totally and utterly true of them.

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.”

So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” 

So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’

I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.”

So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadowlark.”

So God made a farmer.

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners.  Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk.  Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does. 

So God made a farmer.”

Maybe you know a farmer.  Maybe you frequent your local farmer’s market.  Maybe you’ve seen their calloused hands and the pride with which they arrange their market stall each week.  And maybe you’ve tasted the delicious fruits of their labor.  Next time you see a farmer or a rancher, tell them I said thank you.

About Stacie

Stacie Humpherys is an engineer, graphic artist, and farmer who lives on her very own petite farmstead just outside of Middleton, Idaho. Say hi on Twitter.

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