1. They are much much dirtier than you thought.

Mud, manure, hay, grease, fluids of all kinds, corn, “bees wings” (bits of corn that fly around when you’re putting it in the bin), gravel, dust, straw, tiny sneezy motes of who-knows-what…it’s all made it into my house, my washer, the dryer, the shower.

2. “If there isn’t any calving trouble” or “If I’m not baling hay” or “If it rains” is an appropriate RSVP to a wedding, graduation, party, or planning a vacation.

Actual Conversation:

Me: I think I’m in labor.

Him: You can’t be in labor, I was going to mow hay this afternoon.

Baby born anyway. He was there.


3. The hours are much longer.

When I was newly married, my mother-in-law invited me over while our husbands were cutting silage. It was a long long night. I had to go home and go to bed so I could get up and teach the next day. The farmers still weren’t home. That was a taste, a tiny taste of the hours they keep. Back then, I relished the alone time. Now, I have six kids to put to bed by myself and do all the other things.

4. Weather isn’t small talk.

It can make a year or break a year. It’s important to know if it’s going to rain or be dry for the next three days when the hay is ready to mow, because you don’t want it to rain on mowed hay. Weather is more than “should I take an umbrella to work?”, or “will it be nice for the softball game on Saturday?” It’s part of our livelihood.

5. There is much out of the farmer’s control.

They can’t control if there is a drought or a flood. They can’t control farm commodity prices. They can’t control if they have to have baby calves in the middle of a blizzard. They can’t control choices the government makes in regards to whom they allow buy our crops. They can do everything right in a year, and still can’t control if they make any money.

6. Farmers deal with big numbers.

They buy a tractor. That is a LOT of money. They get paid for a load of cattle. It’s a HUGE check. They buy land. They get a GIGANTIC loan. They pay SO MUCH in taxes. For everything. The numbers are way beyond what a typical household deals with, and yet what they actually make at the end of the year might be a lot less.

7. Most farmers have off farm jobs.

Over the last decade, non-farm income has averaged 86 percent of total U.S. farm household income, according to the USDA. In one article I read, the farmer was quoted as saying, “You really can’t operate a farm or ranch without someone working outside.”

9. So many things go wrong on a daily basis.

Again with the many many things out of one’s control, anything from a salesman stopping by when the farmer is in the middle of his day, and shooting the breeze for 45 minutes out of politeness, to bearings going out in the tractor to a bull with foot rot to the silo unloader giving him trouble, the farmer is constantly putting out fires and changing his plan at the last minute to deal with whatever has gone wrong now.


My farmer and me with our farm in the background. Photo by Aubrey Schlue

9. Farmers love what they do.


Can you imagine loving your job so much that you work only because you love to work? My husband told me once that I work to get money so I can do the things. He admires that because he works because that’s what he does. It’s who he is. It’s almost indescribable. Farmers want to make money, of course, but they also accept that sometimes they don’t, and the good years get them motivated through the lean ones.

10. Farmers are the only one of their kind; unlike anyone else. Unique.

If you don’t know a farmer, befriend one. They are amazing, hardy individuals. Admire one today.



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  1. Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids August 22, 2018 at 9:57 am #

    I couldn’t agree more! Great post!

  2. Jessica Holst August 22, 2018 at 1:33 pm #

    Thank you!

  3. Rachel Gustafson August 22, 2018 at 11:43 pm #

    This was great. I learned some things!

  4. Lori August 23, 2018 at 1:42 am #

    The weather report and market reports were the only times I could not talk at my grandparents farm. Everything had to be Silenced; including spoiled, jabbering grandchildren.

  5. Kate Johnson September 5, 2018 at 1:59 am #

    Oh Jessica, I love this! Actual conversation here: {me} I think I’m in labor. {him} We have to get this field picked before it rains, call me when you are at the doctor and know for sure. Baby born anyway. He was there + went right back to harvest 2 hours later. 🙂

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