Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Deep Rural Roots

Most people in this world work a job that is merely an occupation and live in a place out of necessity but that is not the case for those of us in agriculture. Our chosen vocation is a way of life that happens to provide us with a living wage. I was reminded of this over the weekend.

My family and I traveled to the Flint Hills Rodeo in Strong City. This town is nestled in the middle of the Flint Hills and steeped in the tradition of ranching. Not only is it an opportunity for the hardworking families on the nearby ranches to relax, it is an chance for those outside of the Flint Hills to get a taste of the tradition and heritage that drives many of us.

The announcer talked about the rich heritage of ranching in the Flint Hills, with the green native hillsides serving as a backdrop. He talked about how many of us had worked the same land for generations and it struck me that he might have hit upon something the rest of the population is missing.

Those of us farming and ranching are probably living on the land that our families have lived on for several generations. I am the fifth generation on our family farm and it is very hard for me to fathom not having my roots planted in my families land. We have worked that patch of ground for over 100 years and we know every inch, every corner and every hilltop. We have no greater wish than to protect that land and heritage and make it available for the next generation.

The rest of the population merely moves from one location to another following one job to the next. They never get to put down roots and are not tied to any particular place. That leads to a loss of community, no ties among families in those communities and no pride of being from "somewhere". I find that really sad and wonder if that is not the root of many of our problems.

I wish that those of you who live where you are out of necessity and not out of pride or love for your home and community could experience our small, rural towns. Spend time with us on our family farms, see our love of the land and for our heritage. I wish you could spend time in our communities and experience our celebrations. If we all had the opportunity to love the place we live in, the land we live on and the people we live with, I think we would all be more understanding of others around us. Maybe, that would lead to more people understanding that farmers and ranchers try hard to protect that heritage and the land that is so much a part of who we are.

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