Rural Wit and Wisdom: Farmer’s Work

The farmer’s work is never done, but that doesn’t mean a farmer never has fun. Manual labor lends itself to Rural Wit and Wisdom on the farm.

| May 2012

Family farmers are a busy part of the American workforce, and their days are full from sunup to sundown. Hard work is something they take pride in even when some of the tasks are less desirable. Rural Wit and Wisdom (Fulcrum Publishing, 2012) by Jerry Apps is a collection of sage advice from hard workers who motivate themselves to do all kinds of tasks that keep their homesteads running. This excerpt was taken from Chapter 3, “Work.”  

Work defines rural life, yesterday as well as today. On the farms in the heartland, the workday begins at an early hour, before the sun rises during much of the year, and continues into the evening until the livestock are fed and the evening chores are done.

It is easy to conclude that a rural person’s life is one of drudgery. For some it is, but for most the work is enjoyed, nearly all the time, anyway. Some tasks are enjoyed more than others. No one that I knew enjoyed hoeing potatoes or cucumbers hour upon hour under a hot June sun, or forking manure from a calf pen, or walking behind a team of horses pulling a smoothing drag that lifted clouds of dust so thick that you could barely see the horses’ heads in front of you.

Other tasks made up for the less desirable ones. Going after the cows on a dewy morning in spring, with birdsong everywhere and the sun edging the horizon, was one of them. Hauling hay into an empty barn, with the sweet smell of drying hay and the satisfaction of seeing the haymows filled to the rafters, was another. Rural people take great pride in their work. It doesn’t matter if the task is picking cucumbers, shocking grain, or making a fence. The job is done well, to the best of the person’s ability. Barn builders were a good example of this. When they finished constructing a barn, they brought friends and relatives to see it. For these barn builders, each new barn was a part of who they were, what they believed, and, of course, their craftsmanship.

• A neighbor had two willing hired men. One was willing to work and the other was willing to let him.

• All that you do, do with all your might. Things done by half are never done right.

Tom Michel
6/6/2012 6:06:54 PM

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