I’m sitting at my desk the morning after our annual bull sale. As I review the hectic period that always precedes the sale, it’s impossible not to be thankful for all the help of neighbors.
I know I’m guilty of sometimes thinking that the rural America experience is superior in every way to its urban counterpart. I would offend a lot of urban people if I argued that rural people are more responsible, harder-working and more involved in their communities than urban dwellers, but I truly believe it. I do believe families tend to be closer and stronger.
It isn’t that rural people are superior; it’s simply that the lifestyle dictates it. Our kids have ownership in the ranch because they’re actively involved and an integral part of its day-to-day operation. If you’re a city kid, you may know that your dad and mom work hard to provide for you in more traditional jobs, but I think it’s different when you’re working side by side with your parents.
The same argument can be made about neighbors. When I first started working, I lived in the city and didn’t even know the people a couple of doors down from my apartment. It wasn’t that I was less sociable then; I simply didn’t share their interests and their presence did little to change my day-to-day life.
Meanwhile, in rural America, neighbors tend to be your contemporaries, and they also happen to be critical to your success. In some form or another, we have some sort of business relationship with the majority of our neighbors.
Without our neighbors’ help, we’d likely never have been able to pull off our bull sale. Whether it’s the equipment, labor or just advice and support, our yard was filled with their trucks most of the week.
In the city, when you are stranded on the side of the road, you call a tow truck; in the country, you call your neighbor. It’s just one more reason that I have to smile when I hear politicians lament about rural economic development and standard of living.
There aren’t many urban people I would swap lifestyles with, but I sure know many urbanites who would love to change places with me. In rural America, we understand that good fences make good neighbors; more importantly, however, being a neighbor actually means supporting one another and not simply out of necessity.
The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.
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