Rural Wit and Wisdom: Farming

The common sense, wit and wisdom of a farmer comes from everyday tasks such as milking cows, plowing and tilling a field. Discover the dignity and poetry of heartland people with this compilation of Rural Wit and Wisdom.

| May 2012

Family farms once dominated the heartland. Now those homesteads have given way to smaller farming operations, mostly organic, but the time-honored values remain the same. Rural Wit and Wisdom (Fulcrum Publishing, 2012) by Jerry Apps is the compilation of all the advice, sayings and poetry of heartland people from the family farm days to today. These timeless sayings capture the common sense and poetry of the hard-working farmer. This excerpt is taken from Chapter 1, “Farming.” 

Farmers are the heart and soul of this country. In the settlement years of the heartland, more people worked as farmers than any other occupation. As the years passed, farmers began leaving the land; now, less than 2 percent of the American workforce farms.

The values and beliefs held by farmers who settled the region, and the children and grandchildren who followed them on the land, forged the basic foundation for today’s heartland people. Some modern-day folks claim farmers and farm life are historic relics, replaced by high-tech, modern-day agriculturists who farm thousands of acres, milk thousands of cows, fatten thousands of beef cattle in feedlots, and raise thousands of hogs and poultry in confined operations. Those who say this are likely not aware of the much smaller farming operations, many of them organic, that are rapidly growing in number in this country and in many ways resembling the family farmers who worked the soil during pioneer days. Family farmers are a special people. Famed Tuskegee educator Booker T. Washington wrote in 1895, “No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.” That advice still holds.

Here is a sprinkling of farm wisdom:

• A farmer recently won the lottery. When asked what he was going to do with the money, he replied, “I’ll keep farming until the money runs out.”

• Anyone can farm, but not everyone is a farmer.

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