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Across the Editor's Desk: Planting time: Where's your joy?

Agriculture.com Staff 05/18/2006 @ 8:00am

Over the years I've learned that farmers as a group hold more differing points of view than members of most other vocations and professions. Perhaps that's because farming includes so many and diverse enterprises as well as scale of operation and business styles.

So I shouldn't be surprised that farmers approach the spring planting season with greatly differing attitudes, too. For many of you, spring is not a season of great joy.

I learned that from an Ag Poll on Agriculture Online® (www. agriculture.com). Here's the question: What one word best describes your attitude at planting time?

Here are the six words and the percentage of responses, including those who listed "Other."

Untitled Document • Pressure - 27%
• Pleasure - 23%
• Hurry - 19%
• Worry - 15%
• Joy - 8%
• Freedom - 4%
• Other - 4%

The fact that 61% of those who responded to the poll chose pressure, hurry, and worry as their dominant attitude is worthy of reflection. It says perhaps nothing more than that farming is a big and risky business with huge gains or losses riding on a good start to the growing season.

Has planting season joy diminished as pressure has grown over the years? Maybe. Farmer-poet James Hearst, in 1951, opened his poem, "Invocation," with these words:

"Come, you farmers, let us sing together / let us sing of the passion for planting / we the sowers and growers / live for the rising shoot and the spread of root."

One of the respondents to the poll probably nailed the reality of planting season when he wrote of the six words, "All of the above each year."

Another poster summed up his bouncy attitude this way: "Joy when it's early and dry. Hurry to beat the rain. Worried after it rains if we can start again. Pressure to get done on time. Freedom when we are done."

Hearst acknowledges competing attitudes in his 1962 poem, "Spring on the Farm." It begins this way:

"The mixed emotions which I hold this spring / Grow from the farm's offense / Of tracking muddy footprints where the inward eye / Supposes dreams but finds that commonsense / Will be more use to me out in the slush."

Amid the planting season pressure, enjoy the adventure, too.

Loren Kruse can be reached at loren.kruse (at) meredith.com.

Over the years I've learned that farmers as a group hold more differing points of view than members of most other vocations and professions. Perhaps that's because farming includes so many and diverse enterprises as well as scale of operation and business styles.

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