How would you farm differently if a total stranger (non-farmer/rancher) followed you around all day? How would we work differently with a non-farmer following? That question was asked to me by fellow agriculture advocate, Ryan Goodman, who is hoping there will be many of us who provide answers today. "The goal of this topic idea is to encourage agriculture to evaluate how we would react to visitors, and reflect on knowledge of our daily practices. This is also a great opportunity to share our thoughts with non-farm consumers and open our doors of transparency," says Goodman, who encourages everyone to post their thoughts on Facebook and use the #farmvisit tag on Twitter to jump-start the discussion.
So, here is my answer to this blog prompt:
My dad is a great man, who has built his cattle business based on honesty, integrity and a solid character, and he taught his daughters to do the same. There's an old saying that goes, "Character is what you do when nobody is looking," and that's what comes to mind when asked the question - How would you farm differently if a total stranger (non-farmer/rancher) followed you around all day?
Truthfully, I wouldn't change a thing. Sure, maybe I would pick up a few scattered twine strings or feedbags; maybe I would brush up on some agriculture facts and literature before my guests arrived to better answer their questions; and I would probably throw some beef and potatoes in a crockpot for my guests to enjoy at dinner time. But, otherwise, I wouldn't need to change a thing.
Day in and day out, my family consistently does a few things:
-First, we put the animals first. They are fed, watered, bedded if necessary, and checked for illness or injury. Quality beef comes from quality care, and we love and respect these cattle. Working with them on a daily basis is a joy that my family shares, and we are proud of the genetics we have compiled over the years.
-Second, we care for the environment. Sustainability is our middle name. We make a habit of planting trees and a garden, controlling weeds, picking up trash and improving the land on a regular basis. We want to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
-Third, we care about our family. Our values in faith, family and farming are strong. We go to church and thank God for His many blessings. We pray for good weather and health, and we have hope for the future. We make donations to local food banks and Goodwill to help those in need. Serving the community is part of living in rural areas.
-Finally, we care about the food we sell and eat. Our beef is safe, wholesome and nutritious. It packs the ZIP (zinc, iron and protein) we need to get through the day, and it tastes great, too. We are passionate about eating good beef, and we have shelves of cookbooks we reference for great beef recipes. We love having rich conversations around the dinner table and discussing our days with families and friends.
Sound like an idyllic picture? Well, it's everyday life for most agriculture families. Close to 98% of farms and ranches are family-owned and operated, and this is just our way of life. I'm proud to say I would change very little about my routine if someone were to shadow me for the day. Strange as it may seems, I might actually enjoy talking to my visitor instead of the dog. We welcome guests anytime.
What would you change if someone were to shadow you for the day? Have you considered what questions they might ask?