Contemplations on turning 63

Tomorrow, July 13 (yeah it’s Friday 13) is my birthday—the 20thanniversary of my 43rdbirthday. You can do the math.

And I was just thinking that I have spent more than half of those 63 years as an employee of Farm Press Publications. I wish I had enough information at my fingertips to figure out how many farmers I’ve met and interviewed, how many dirt roads I’ve bounced on to get to farms and ranches and how many meetings I’ve sat through while trying to stay awake and take notes. As the saying goes, “if I had a nickel….”

I’d also like to figure out how many friends I’ve made through those interviews and meetings and at the end of those bad roads. That number would be pretty close to the number of interviews I’ve done. I can’t think of another career I could have followed that would have provided the friendships I’ve enjoyed pursuing this one.

Back in June of 1978 I had no idea that in July of 2012 I’d still be working for Farm Press. I’ve moved a bit. I started out as an associate editor for Southeast Farm Press, firmly entrenched in Atlanta, Georgia, and covering mostly the lower states of the Southeast—Georgia, Alabama, North Florida—with occasional trips into South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina. I made a few trips, too, into Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky.

I even had one forgettable—well not really since I still remember how bad I felt as the flu took over all of my systems—into West Virginia. I also remember that the scenery was beautiful and the farmers most cooperative.

I could probably write a book—not a bad idea, actually—about the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve met and the lessons I’ve learned just by doing my job. I’ve witnessed bumper crops that put smiles on the faces of the farmers I talked to. I’ve also seen beautiful crops devastated by hail, pests and floods. And just last year I watched all summer as the worst drought in recorded history scorched the Southwest and destroyed crops, pastures and rangeland. I watched wind blow soil off the land and wildfires consume thousands of acres of forests and forage.

And then I witnessed miracles—farmers and ranchers picking themselves up and repairing the damage as best they could. They replanted this spring and hope to recoup some of their losses. Cattlemen are preparing to restock, as well—when the right combination of price and pasture restoration coincide.

“Hope,” the poet says, “springs eternal.” And it’s nowhere more evident than on farms and ranchers.

So I’m sitting here on the eve of the anniversary of my 63rdyear on this planet and contemplating how I’ve spent my time. I don’t know that I’ve prompted much change. I don’t expect that I’ve made any significant contributions to the future of agricultural production. I have no allusions that I’ve altered the course of human events. But I hope I have provided an occasional nugget of useful information, perhaps a smile or two and maybe a thought of “that just might work on my farm.” If I have, then I’m happy to have been of service. And I intend to keep at it for a while longer.

Oh, by the way, don’t feel obligated to send presents.

TAGS: Livestock
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