John explained that his father came from Holland in 1950. His father's family had been tailors but his father's dream was "to farm in Iowa and own land." John's father died in 2001 and he realized his dream plus raising "three solid kids."
After 20 years in an ag supply business, John sold out and went on the road with a semi. About two years ago, he asked his mother-in-law if she cared who farmed her land. She asked if he wanted to start and he said, "Why not?"
John acquired machinery and started farming. He said "It's the hardest thing I've done but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world."
Last year, at age 53, was John's first year farming. It was a cold, wet spring followed by a dry summer. John wrote in his letter, "Nothing more enjoyable."
In his letter, John told about plowing under a full moon at 2:00 am with the lights off, hearing the ground and corn stalks being plowed under. John watched the new corn come up and grow. He told of "sitting on top of a bin in the full moon touching the stars." John's paragraph concluded with, "It's not all about the money. It's about the land and the farm."
John's letter was forwarded to me so I do not have his address. A letter like John's deserves a reply, so I am hoping John sees this:
I am honored that you took the time to write to me and express your love of farming so warmly.
Your letter reminds me of the joys that are inherent in farming, joys that we can too easily forget. Your affection for farming and land is found in every farmer, whether it is a 300 acre farm or a 3,000 acre farm.
I especially enjoyed hearing your enthusiasm that every farmer feels. You are 53 years old going on 23. I do not know of any farmer who does not thrill at the sound of a diesel engine at full throttle plowing, combining, hauling or any other job. There is a great satisfaction in watching those big wheels turn as they cross a field leaving tread marks behind as a sign of another completed job.
We are coming into another crop year with planting just 90 days away. It is good to remember there will be nights working under a full moon and that there will be a mix of disappointments and pleasant surprises all through the crop year.
You are right. It is not "all about the money" although $3 corn and $7 soybeans do make life more enjoyable for me (and my lender). A farm is a place to have coffee with your friends, wave at your neighbors and raise "solid kids."
When I wrote the piece, I told about farmers "living poor and dying rich." That is not entirely accurate. There are times when the income is short and the bills seem to never end. But there are also times when we can look at a new born calf, straight rows of corn moving in the breeze on a sunny day, watch a crop go into the front of the combine while feeling the engineâ€™s roar and the moving shafts rumble as the combine bin fills, or at our children and grandchildren as they grow, and know we have wealth that can not be measured. It is at those times we feel like we can "touch the stars."