Last week I took a trip to Iowa to visit the Iowa Soybean Association.
I introduced them to the concept of finding the best donut in Des Moines (Bethany and Lydia were very good sports), and they introduced me to 2 of their farmers and Iowa soybeans.
The trip was about overseas markets and the economic environment here. We talked about fuel costs and fertilizer costs and the uncertainty of this coming year for any type of farmer.
I even planted soybeans with 2 farmers while I was out there, and we talked, as we rode together in the tractors.
We talked a little bit about farming, but we talked a lot about their lives. And the one thing that resonated, was that amidst all of this uncertainty, there was one thing that was certain: Their contentment.
To farm is to know a place of peace within yourself. Regardless of whether you are planting soybeans in Iowa, or packing silage bunk in New York to ferment feed for cows, there is a thread that runs deep, through all of those that get up every day and work with the land; it’s a thread of contentment.
It means that days aren’t perfect, because machinery breaks down, animals die, and fuel prices are ridiculously high. It’s knowing grace to accept that it’s cool when you need it to be hot, wet when you need it dry and that you may be getting stuck out in the field with every load of feed–but you harvest anyway.
I heard it in my Iowa soybean farmers, I see it in my children after working at the farm all day, and I remember it for myself–there is absolutely nothing like getting up every morning with the sun, working on your land outside in the fresh air–be it cold or hot—and then laying yourself to rest as the sun ducks low beneath the horizon.
Contentment. Hard work. Love of your land. Peace.
When I flew home from Iowa, and I looked up from my book on the plane, the only thing I could see was a sea of screens, closed window shades, and downward-looking heads. I couldn’t help but think, you people are missing a lot. Are you really finding the answers in the palm of your hand or the screen on the back of the seat in front of you?
I am blessed because I know what it feels like to farm. I am blessed because my kids know what it’s like too. I have no doubt, like the farmers that I planted soybeans with in Iowa, that my kids will know what it is to be content.
They are not finding it on their phones or on Youtube–I am most certain of that. Instead, they are finding it when they look out across their land–and work it, every day.
With love, and certainty,