Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year's New Changes

Some little boys want to be baseball players when they grow up, other want to be fire fighters. I have always wanted to be a farmer. Every year for Christmas I wanted a new tractor or a new implement to pull behind those tractors. I think it is in my DNA, my father is a farmer, my grandfather was a farmer and my great-grandfather was a farmer (I suspect it goes back many, many more generations).

Everyday during the summer Dad would leave the house each morning to work in the fields. I would hook my toy tractor up to the same type of implement he had hooked up to his tractor and go off to work up my own fields. I would come back in a lunch just as dirty and happy as he was.

I have always owned livestock. It all started with rabbits when I first joined 4-H. I raised those rabbits and the money I earned from them helped be save up for one of the best days of my life. That was the day I went to my Uncle's cow sale with my Grandpa and bought the cow that started my herd.

Oh, I watched Mom and Dad struggle through the bad years and I know how fickle the weather and the markets can be. But through it all I saw the satisfaction from a life spent working hard, enjoying what you do and time spent working as a family and that money alone should not determine what you do with your life. After graduation I did the sensible thing and found a good job with a regular salary. But deep down I knew I was missing something.

I have always encouraged people to follow their dreams and recently I realized it was my turn to follow mine. It was a tough, scary decision to make, one that cost me many nights of sleep. However, starting this year I will become a full-time farmer/rancher with my father. While it is hard to leave the good people I work with and the great people I serve in Extension, it was a decision that put me at peace.

I look forward to the feeling of waking up each morning knowing that I am doing what I want to do. To me, nothing in this world can be better than being a proud producer of the food that we all need.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Counting my Christmas Blessings

Its one week from Christmas and the signs of the season are all around us. The music of the season is on the radio, the t.v. schedule is full of seasonal programs, the air is alive with the smell of evergreen and sugar cookies. Of course, we are also bombarded with the commercial angle too, with black Friday and Green Saturday. All of this hustle and bustle take away from the real reason for the season.

Christmas is when we, Christians, mark the birth of a baby who came to save us. Jesus was sent to live among us and take away our sins that is the ultimate Christmas gift. The Blessing He gave me is my most treasured gift and one that I eternally grateful for. That is why I take time every Christmas to reflect on the blessings I have been so richly given.

Today is an awesome example of the blessings in my life. This morning I went out into the bright, clean white frosty morning to feed the livestock I have been trusted with. I am incredibly blessed to be allowed to help feed the world. Producing the food and fiber we all need and the fact that I have a part in it is something I marvel at daily.

Chores were followed by a warm cup of coffee and a daily check with Dad. We discussed what needed to be done. I decided to cut some firewood with my son. There is something very satisfying about cutting the wood needed to warm your family. The feel of a fire on a frosty winter night is certainly a blessing I have been given. However, the bigger blessing is to have a profession where I can work daily with my family. Farming and ranching families are closer because of that daily interaction.

Later in the evening I sat in my house, warmed by the fire, eating beef produced by my family ranch, safe and secure in a land of incredible freedoms. My family has plenty, we are well fed, have few worries, and that is a blessing that we all share.

I encourage each of you to take time to reflect on the blessings you have been given. We have each been given individual blessings that we should be grateful for. More importantly, we have all been given the blessing of Eternal Life if we choose to receive it. For that, I am indeed, a blessed man.