Don Lively




(Reprinted from 2013)

My niece Fireball actually laughed out loud when I made the claim.

It was a simple statement.

I said that I was a farmer.

In retrospect, she probably had good reason to snort and I probably should have qualified my statement.

I’m a farm boy, no doubt.

I grew up and spent the first eighteen years of my life on the farm doing all the things that farmers do.

Driving tractors, poorly in my case.

Pulling weeds, interminably.

Toting stumps, achingly.

I did it all cause that’s what farm boys do.

But, honestly, I can’t claim to be a farmer because anybody who knows me would instantly dispute the contention.

Truth is, I couldn’t wait to get off the farm. There was a whole planet waiting to be explore that started just outside the edge of where we grew crops for a living.

But, despite my lack of agricultural aptitude, being raised on a farm in the Blessed South burnished my rural roots to the point that even though I spent most of my adult life living in metropolises, the spirit of the farmer runs deep within me.

Always has, always will.

I was immersed in farming from the time I was old enough to yank Johnson grass out of the ground or to grip a hoe handle, so what I know about farmers is, they possess a rural wisdom that comes from growing up on the soil, partly through trial and error, partly through study and booklearning, and some, admittedly, is just stubborn opinion.

For instance, you will never hear a farmer refer to anything that is made out of carrots or soybeans or black beans or rice, a burger. All those things are fine foods, nutritious and also grown on farms, but, with all due respect to folks who chose not to eat meat, those things ain’t burgers. Call them patties, or even grillers if you like, but not burgers. Burgers require red meat not vegetable gum, you read that right, or potato starch.

So let’s try to get that right.

Farmers learn early on that you must give the trailer hitch on the back of the pickup truck a wide berth when you walk around the rear of your vehicle at the end of the day. This piece of wisdom is usually learned by experience. Though many might not admit it, every farmer has at one time or another smacked his or her shinbone on the trailer hitch simply because they forgot it was there. It’s also one of those things, like when you were a kid and you stuck a fork in the electrical outlet, you’ll only do once. Dancing around on one foot rubbing the egg sized knot for twenty minutes will guarantee there won’t be a second smacking and will remind you to avoid the heavy chrome ball.

Farmers know that no matter how big the dual rear tires you put on a tractor or how tough and strong and reliable your four wheel drive is, it’s still possible, and even probable, that it will get stuck up to the axles and will require two more tractors and a bunch of strong farm boys to get it out of the mud hole or sand bed. Every farmer’s been there and every farmer will be there again.

Farmers know better than to ever cuss the rain.

Recently around these parts we saw thirty-eight straight days with rainfall. I told the brothers that if it rained for two more days, the Biblically significant forty days, we might have to start thinking about building an ark and gathering animals. But I never heard the first farmer complain. Farmers know that it would only require a few weeks of the beating Dixie sun and no rain to plunge us right back into the drought conditions we’ve experienced a few times.

Most farmers I know understand and believe that the puny human race isn’t capable of causing the planet’s climate to warm, a theory that had been touted in recent years, or of causing global cooling which was the rallying cry of the same bunch of scientific folks back in the seventies.

There’s only One person who is capable of controlling the weather and He doesn’t seem to need earthlings to help Him accomplish it.

So, to sum up, farmers in our neck of the woods are wise enough to avoid unidentified foodstuffs purported to be burgers, and to miss trailer hitches with tender body parts.

And to rely on the Lord for pretty much everything else.

Just one more reason this farm boy is glad to be back among the farmers.

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