Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Farmers are a Rare Commodity

With the arrival of winter, life on the farm slows way down.  This is the time when we are working in the shop and repairing equipment.  It is also the time that farmers, like us, attend meetings, workshops or conferences to learn about the newest products, procedures or attend seminars that focus on anything from succession planning to giving input on the upcoming farm bill or just plain networking with like minded individuals. 

The Oregon/Idaho Grains Conference hosted in beautiful Portland, Oregon was attended by many of the best and brightest farmers who are working to continue to help the Ag industry.  At this conference, Joe officially became the Vice President of the Idaho Grain Producers Association (IGPA), an obligation that he wholeheartedly embraces and devotes a great deal of his personal time to.

One of the dedicated farmers who was recognized and honored for his hard work in the wheat industry was a man named Mark Darrington. After receiving the award, Mark told the story that out of his 4 sons, only one as willing to follow in his dad's footsteps and become a farmer. Farming is a year to year risk and as Mark explained, all of our resources go into putting the crop in the ground and hope for a good harvest. Not many people can or want to take financial risks of that nature. Farmers are a strong breed of men and women who share a love of the land and the desire to put food on every one's table, and I feel very privileged to be a part of this group. 

At this conference, I had an interesting experience which again reinforced my views that farmers are thought to be somewhat of a novelty as the bulk of the population rarely has any interaction with those of us involved in agriculture. Case in point: while making a purchase in a department store, a sweet young clerk dutifully asked what brought me to her city (which I am sure she asks that question hundreds of times), so I explained we were here for a farm conference. Once she realized I was an actual farmer, she became quite animated and wanted to know what we grew on our farm, plus she wanted to share her story about her friend who traded her corporate life for one that entailed a foray into some kind of organic farm related venture. The clerk truly was excited to meet a real authentic farmwife and the thought hit me that we are such a minority  we are a novelty! This has happened to me many times and each time it does, I come away feeling amazed and blessed that I am part of this industry  but also recognize that we, as farmers, must tell our story again and again.  What other industry can make the claim that “Today's farmer provides food and fiber for about 140 people—up from just 19 people in 1940” per the Farm Policy Facts website. 

In case you were wondering why I don't have pictures of this event... I have to confess I left my camera at home in my haste trying to get to the airport via the snowstorm that was going on at the time. =) So I'll post pictures of winter scenes from our farm like this....

Winter in our area of the country (Northern Idaho) is beautiful and here is a what we enjoy everyday.
Windmill outside our kitchen window as the sun is setting

A view from the back of our house overlooking
some of our fields
Also at the conference, I met a young woman named Sarah who was attending her first farm conference with her farmer-boyfriend. Sarah was sharing that she didn’t know much about farm life but found it interesting and questioned me and Brenda, another farmwife about our lives and asked if she would ever learn everything there was to know about farming. We both told her farm life is great, but what people don't understand is that it isn't just a job, it's a lifestyle, so be sure you are ready for that adventure.  We told her about our lives and admitted that we were still learning about farming too, even after 25+ years on the farm.  So Sarah if you are reading this, I know you will make a great farm wife, you have the passion.

During the banquet, a striking young woman holding a friend’s baby came up to me to tell me she was a fan of this blog. Now that really made my day and I was quite humbled to have someone else in the Ag field seek me out. I never did get her name, but if you are reading this, thank you for the ultimate compliment. =)

As always, I  hope you enjoy the blog, email me if you have comments, thoughts, questions and I promise to respond.  I also just received permission to document and photograph how Bronzestone Hummus  is made, which uses locally grown garbanzo beans.  So stayed tuned for more on that! 


  1. What an awesome experience you had! I am so glad that you were able to share your story with a consumer. You are right there aren't many of us left, only about two percent. People want to know we just have to be willing to share otherwise PETA or HSUS will tell them a very different story.


  2. My thoughts exactly! People want that connection with those of us who grow/produce their food. Thanks for leaving a great comment.

  3. Your blog is excellent, Gayle! It's informative and interesting. We know many people are so removed from the farm that they don't understand that farmers must respect and nurture the land in order to receive anything from it. Many people are misinformed and/or ignorant, for lack of a better word, and you are doing a great job educating them! Keep up the good work!


  4. Brenda,

    Thanks so much for the great compliment and glad you like the blog. g

  5. Your blog is excellent, Gayle! It's informative and interesting. People are so far removed from the farm they don't understand that farmers must respect and nurture the land in order to receive anything from it. Many people are misinformed and/or ignorant about farming and farm life. You're doing a great job educating them--keep it up!