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Down-Home Country Folks

Last year I had the privilege of attending a cattle auction. It had been years since I had visited one. It involved stepping around cow patties and stopping to chat with farmers in dusty hats.

To this country kid, it was like a visit to my childhood.

Farmers and ranchers are the salt of the earth. As I watched those hardy people chomp their lunches that day, I noticed they took eating seriously. Spring planting and fall harvesting bring stress.

It’s gulp and go for the ones who depend on weather and seasons, and it carries over to mealtime.

One country sage said, “If you’re gonna work like a horse you gotta eat like one.”

You can tell a farmer by his looks.

He will be darkly tanned from working outside, and probably will have a white forehead. That comes from wearing a hat all day. Hats are standard equipment, as are jeans and boots.

A farmer usually has sizeable muscles from bucking hay bales, swinging five-gallon feed buckets and wrestling with stubborn animals. By nature, he must be tough.

Did you ever try herding a cantankerous bull into a chute when he didn’t want to go? Or shoeing a horse when it kicked you into the wall?

Or sitting on a tractor seat all day and half the night because it’s harvest time and frost will come and ruin your crops? Farming isn’t for wimps.

The same farmer who bites the bullet with his own pain, might rescue a tiny kitten stuck in a tree and pet the dog on the way to the barn. And if you sneak up on him in the morning when he climbs aboard his tractor-- where he will spend the rest of the day-- you might catch him humming his favorite tune.

Farmers are a rare breed. No other occupation carries such long hours and risks (crop failure, bad weather, low market prices, dangerous working conditions). But if you follow one around for a day or two you just might discover why he wouldn’t trade places with city folks for any amount of money.

He gets to experience spectacular sunrises and sunsets, the unfolding of nature, animals to bond with, and a life lived close to the land.

Hard work? Yes. Extreme temperatures? Oh yes. But blessings? Abundant.

What about you? Any memories of country living? Feel free to comment below.

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