Minnesota Farmer


Butterflies mean you care

At our last Minnesota Farm Bureau Promotion and Education conference we had a variety of speakers, but one had a quote from a friend that stuck.  She was talking about how she was always so nervous when she started to talk to groups and how the butterflies in her stomach were really bothering her.  She mentioned this to another, more experienced, speaker and the response was “Butterflies mean you care.”

I remember well some of my butterfly episodes in my early years.  They were so strong that it made it hard for me to even consider stepping up in front of people.  What may have finally gotten the butterflies under control was my first time on stage in a community play.  That day I got to pretend I was someone else.  It was not me on stage, but the character I portrayed.

The butterfly day that hit me hardest was when I was asked to give a short explanation on the words of Christ from the cross.  I was asked to speak on “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”  I only remember a bit of what I said that day, but I do remember this, when I was done I could hardly see because of the emotion I had dredged up.  I felt what it meant to be forsaken.  I hope my audience did too.

We in agriculture have for many years been ignored.  We were the left behind, those who could not cut it in the “real” world.  The feeling was that those who farmed were a bit stupid to stay in a job where you worked so hard for so little.  For many of us that could not be further from the truth.

I have lived and seen the caring attitude of those who are on the farm.  Yes, some of our ways at times may seem a bit callous, but if you get to know us you will know we do really care, and our outside attitude is to, at times, hide the tears.

I have cried over many pets in my life, and vowed to never have a dog on my farm, because I could not stand the thought of what I would feel if they died on the busy highway that runs so near to our house.  We do have cats however, I try not to get too close to them, but still they can hurt you.  We lost two half grown kittens this last week to accidents, one was to me very tragic and senseless.

The caring extends beyond animals in our care, it extends also to the land.  I remember well the gullies that used to form after a rain storm in some of our fields.  Soil moving off of the farm due to wind or water erosion really bothered me.  I can say with pride that the changes we have made in our farming practices have nearly eliminated erosion due to wind and water.  It is something I want to continue to improve.

When I think of some of the things that we used to do 50 years ago, it makes me very upset.  Back then we did not understand what we were doing.  Some of the early years of pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use were indeed wild.  Todays farmer is trained in the use of farm chemicals and gets tested on a regular schedule to make sure the rules are followed.  No fertilizer or chemical is spread on the land without an understanding of what is needed.  We do soil tests and hire consultants so we can get the most out of every input we use while doing no harm.

We live on the land, we want our children to live on the land, we would knowingly do nothing to harm the land we live on.  Those who knowingly do harm to the animals or land in their care are not people we need in farming.  We do care about what we are doing.  The butterflies are there.

Michael

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