Monday, November 18, 2013

You Don't Look Like a Farmer!

You sure don’t LOOK like a farmer…
this is NOT me!
(Mr. Green Jeans from the Captain Kangaroo Show)


(I mean, really…what would you say in response?)

This comment usually comes as the speaker is peering at me with an odd sideways glance.  Maybe they heard me wrong and thought I just said I was from Mars…or maybe I suddenly spoke Swahili (now, that would surprise me, too!) maybe I forgot to answer the question and they are wondering why I am standing there looking dumbfounded.   Honestly, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard it.

I finally wondered what it meant and began to ask just WHAT I did look like.  Oh, the answers…

Apparently, I look like a teacher, a nurse, maybe a horse trainer…or was that dog trainer?  One lady told me that I looked like I was from New Jersey (yep, Roy…that one’s just for you) Seriously?  How do you look like you’re from New Jersey?  Somebody thought I worked at a bank…maybe I “did computers”.  Nobody ever guesses farmer. (well, almost never...the one time I figured I looked like a "horse/dog trainer-nurse-teacher-computer-banker from NJ", a lady was SURE that I was a farmer!  ...I was even wearing flipflops!  go figure)   

I must point out that whenever I have heard this comment, I been have wearing my relatively clean “town” clothes and was completely out of my usual element. No one said anything like that the time I found myself in the middle of the mall contemplating how the cow manure got smeared down my clean jeans.  Or the time I was sitting in the dentist chair and realized I wore my barn boots to town and there was sheep poo wedged in the cleats.  Then, there was the time the farm truck lost its brakes in town and I had to explain to the repair guys that…no…we didn’t start our truck with a key…you needed to use that little switch the Boss installed.(they were right impressed with that one).  I guess those were just proof that you can take the farmer off the farm….you can’t take farm out of the farmer.  And, farming has been our occupation for the past 16 years…no matter what I look like.

Granted, these folks have never seen me when I’m vetting sheep with muddy boots and mucky overalls.  Maybe they would see it if they watched me deliver a lamb or two, diagnose and treat a few sick critters, feed a few bottle babies, or listen to me talk to the vet. Maybe they would understand if they saw us processing broilers, hauling hay, reading reviews of various crops,discussing food issues with customers, scratching through the dirt for potatoes or any of a million other things that our occupation requires us to do on a regular basis. Maybe they should ask the vet or the feedstore folks, maybe the county government, or even the IRS.  They all consider us…me…a farmer.

When some folks hear the word “Farmer” they imagine some old guy with overalls and a straw hat driving some enormous farm equipment. Uh…no.
When I say vegetable farmer, they imagine that we’re young folks with tie-dyed shirts, sandals and dreadlocks, eschewing modernity and embracing the whole “organic, alternative, sustainable” thing.  Uh…no.
It would be so nice if people could get beyond their need to pigeonhole everyone, to slap a label on others and think that they understand.  …’cause they don’t.

Obviously, I’m not an old guy, I can’t stand hats, don’t generally wear overalls, and the Boss does all the driving of our very small farm equipment.  On the other hand, we’re not young, couldn’t do dreads if we tried and are fairly open-minded toward new varieties and methods because they may very well enable us to be sustainable in the long run.

I’m really okay with the fact that we are a small, very small, okay…minuscule farm (by some standards). But, we are also a thriving farm entity that produces some excellent products. While we will never be able to lay claim to feeding the world, (honestly, that’s a big claim…and I don’t know if I want that kind of responsibility…) we can say in all truthfulness that we do provide fresh food for our customers all year long…and have for quite some time.

So, in the long run, it really doesn’t matter what I look like, what the Boss looks like…and it doesn’t matter if we don’t fit neatly into some little category that someone else made up. There are all kinds of farms and farming two looking exactly alike.

...and personally, I think that's a good thing!

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1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more Barbara. What do they want = that you go into town with straw sticking out of your hair and cow poo on your boots