Recently I had the privilege of attending a cattle auction. To this country kid, it was like a visit to my childhood. Just being around farm and ranch folks again warmed my heart.
What makes country folks so special? Well, I made a few observations that day while rubbing elbows with these grassroots people.
To quote a bumper sticker I once saw, “Never cuss a farmer with your mouth full.” Farmers and ranchers are the salt of the earth. As I watched cattle farmers chomp their lunch that day, I noticed they take eating very seriously. They are often under time pressure, especially during spring planting and fall harvesting season. It’s gulp and go for them.
You can tell a farmer by his looks. He sports a dark tan from working outside so much, and possibly a white forehead from wearing his hat 14 hours a day. Hats are standard equipment, as are jeans (my dad wore bib overalls nearly every day of his life) and possibly cowboy boots or work boots. He has sizable muscles from bucking hay bales and swinging feed buckets. When he gets a gash that requires 20 stitches and he finally quits work long enough to go to the emergency room, and they ask him his pain level—which would be 10+ for anybody else—he just mumbles, “About a two.”
Farmers, by nature, must be tough. Did you ever try herding a cantankerous bull into a chute when he didn’t want to go there? Or shoeing a horse when it kicks? Or working all day and half the night because it’s harvest time and frost will come and ruin your crops? Farming isn’t for wimps.
The same farmer who bites the bullet with his own pain, might pick up a baby bird and put it back in the nest when no one is looking. He will pet the dog on the way to the barn. And if you sneak up on him you might catch him humming, “How Great Thou Art.”
Roberta Sarver is an author and songwriter who lives in central Missouri. Her humor columns appear in the Versailles Leader-Statesman and her original songs of worship have appeared on radio stations across the nation. She and her husband are the parents of seven children.