If there is one skill farmers have honed, it's being in charge.
They're born leaders.
After all, they choose their crop inputs, map out their field
fertility plans, invest in livestock and feed stocks, decide on
crop insurance, determine when commodity prices are right, spend
the money they need for the equipment to make it all happen, and
choose to get up before the roosters each day because there's a lot
to accomplish. Often times, the farmers I know, do not stop until
long after the sun has called it a day.
And while they are busy running their farms and helping raise
their families, many also decide to become involved in their
communities. You'll find farmers in rural areas involved in all
kinds of things-from memberships on the local school board, board
of supervisors, elevator board, electric cooperative board, corn
and soybean associations, and even being 4-H leaders and friends of
the local FFA.
Leadership Through Relationships
Part of what makes so many farmers such outstanding leaders is the
relationships they build and the way they relate to others. Their
honest point of view can bring a great sense of humor to the things
they do and the people they interact with in their communities.
You've probably seen it, but one of my favorite entries in a parade
was a farmer who brought a tractor and manure spreader. The
spreader was adorned with a sign that read, "Politician's Speaking
I saw another who was on a tractor ride through northwest Iowa.
He had a pig mover attached to his tractor, and fastened to it was
a sign that announced the cost of riding in the pig mover as
opposed to walking along the route. It read, "Kids, Clowns &
Gals: FREE. Seniors & Dogs: FREE. Guys: $1.00."
You gotta love farmers and their sense of humor.
Farmers are smart, too. When my husband was a high school FFA
member, he once volunteered to help on sale day at the county fair.
His job was to help the 4-H'ers get their calves in and out of the
ring, and loaded up. It didn't take him long to figure out it was
going to be a tough day, with all those kids saying tearful
farewells to their calves. He knew right away why he was assigned
to that task-none of the farmers on the beef committee wanted that
job either. They knew.
Maybe that difficult high school ag leadership experience helped
my husband become a good livestock man, and in turn, a good 4-H
leader. He also understands those kids-some of which have been our
own over the years.
It's All About Teamwork
And behind every guy 4-H leader is his wife trying to keep it all
going. Recently our club had decided to order out for pizza, which
my husband was supposed to bring with him to the next meeting. I
ordered the 10 pizzas and the plan was set. I had other obligations
that night and could neither go to the meeting nor be around to
remind my husband of the time. (Ladies of the farm, I KNOW you
understand that one.)
Turns out that it was the weekend of the time change, and my
husband forgot to set his watch ahead. Though it was late, the
pizza and my husband both eventually arrived.
But when it comes right down to it, farmers make great leaders.
They know what it takes to finish a job-even those really big ones.
They show us every day how to shoulder tremendous responsibility in
the face of the unknown, and when they find something they feel is
worthy of their time, they're committed to it. They've invested
plenty of their own sweat equity into the community, they care, and
they'll be around.
Even if supper isn't until 10 p.m.
Karen Schwaller, www.karenschwaller.com
Karen lives on a grain and livestock farm in Milford, IA.
She has been writing for newspapers for 30 years, 18
of which she's spent writing about life on the farm with humor
and inspiration. While Karen is extremely passionate about writing,
she also likes playing guitar, photography and being with her
family. She will be sharing posts on what she means by "farms and
families go together." Karen's perspective on farming will reflect
on all that happens on the farm through good times and bad. She
strives to deliver hope during difficult times, some
situations you might recognize in your family, as well as a few
smiles and laughs along the way.
AgStar Financial Services is a cooperative,
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