The first man I ever loved was my dad. Growing up all I wanted was to impress him enough to be accepted as an equal on the farm. So I worked . . . hard. Baling hay until my appendix almost burst. Insisting on caring for one farrowing house all on my own, often missing supper to feed the sows. Pretending to know the right way to accomplish a task, just so I didn’t have to ask. My passion for agriculture was fueled by my need to show my worth as a girl on the farm.
During my first try at driving the baler (I was 10), my grandpa Ray kicked me off the tractor because I couldn’t drive straight and from then on I held my own on the rack. We made a good team through the years. Grandpa Ray was our farm’s foundation, the reason we came together as a family.
In high school, my ag teacher and FFA advisor, Mr. Pettit, plucked me from the student body and pushed me into FFA. He let me off the hook only once, but held me accountable for everything else. He’ll never take credit for playing a role in my journey through that organization that effectively changed the course of my life, but he did, giving me opportunity after opportunity to grow.
At Truman State University I met Dr. Michael Seipel. He was interviewing for a position in the agriculture department and I attended one of his guest lectures on CAFOs. A few weeks later I applied to be his office assistant and spent the next four years assisting. I don’t think we ever got much work done, but we talked a lot. Well, I talked a lot and he listened. Those hours increased my confidence in expressing my own opinions about farming. I actually felt like I knew what I was talking about.
My first job out of school was at the National FFA Organization and I had the privilege of working with several former ag teachers who brought their personal passion for agricultural education and FFA to the office every day. Dale Crabtree will remain the most effective, compassionate, demanding, all around good supervisor for which I have worked. Dale and I survived managing the largest annual youth convention together for two years. We cried, we laughed, we argued, yet agreed that we were working for the blue jacket above all else.
The man I will love for the rest of my life is My Farmer. He wakes me every morning with a slam of the backdoor, although he claims that isn’t his intention. He farms with intensity and a personal responsibility to be the best, to farm the best not to gain an award, but because he demands that from himself. In the past 10 years his evolution as a husband and father inspires me to be better in our partnership. Our mantra is, he farms and I talk. But in our home, he teaches and I listen in order to take the message to the farm/food Conversation.
Although he is not a man, our farm boy is well on his way. He amuses us every day with his youthful passion for corn, tractors and open space. And so we work to make this farm sustainable for him, his sister and cousin, so that in ten years if they choose to walk these fields they may.
I have written about “Girl Power” and the women who have contributed to my role as wife, mother and farmer. But it wasn’t until my stroll down memory lane at the national FFA convention, that I realized the number of men who steadily, sometimes silently, but always supportively pushed me to the front and recognized my passion for all things ag.
Here’s to you – the Men in My Life.
Read more 30 Days of Farm Girl Memories
And find other 30 Day bloggers starting with the one who got us into this – Holly Spangler from My Generation.