Agriculture departments confuse them. City relations visit them. Meals wait for them. Weather can delay them but it takes Heaven to stop them. When your car stops along the way, a farmer is a considerate, courteous inexpensive road service.
When a farmer’s wife or friend suggests he buy a new suit, he can quote from memory every expense involved in operating the farm last year, and some that will crop up this year. Or else he will assume the role of the indignant shopper, impressing upon everyone within earshot the pounds of beef or pork he must produce to pay for that new suit at today’s prices.
A farmer is a paradox. He is an executive in overalls with his home his office. He is a scientist using sprays, fertilizers, preparing feed mixtures; a purchasing agent in grease stained overalls; a personnel director with grease under his fingernails.
He has to be a careful manager battling a narrow price-cost squeeze, faced with an over-producing problem. He manages more capital than he ever hopes to see together at the end of his working years. He learns to live with mortgages, adverse weather, low prices and poor markets for his products.
He likes sunshine, good food, a day at the fair or rodeo, auction sales or visiting his neighbors. He likes Saturday night in town his shirt collar unbuttoned and above all a good soaking rain in July.
He is not much for droughts, high winds, throughways, experts, weeds, wild oats in his fields, helping with housework, or hailstorms.
Nobody else can leave his overalls and jacket in the porch and still track summer fallow dust in the house or leave a grease spot on his chair; deposit a cupful of chaff out of each trouser cuff on the bedroom carpet.
A farmer is both Faith and Fatalist. He must have Faith to continually meet the challenges of his capacities amid an ever-present possibility that an act of God (a late spring, early frost, flood or drought) can bring his business to a standstill. You can reduce his yields, his acreage or his markets, but you cannot restrain his ambition and optimism. Might as well put up with him. He is your friend, your competitor, your customer, your source of food and fiber, and the source of self-reliant young people to help replenish the cities and towns.
And when he comes in at night having spent the energy of his hopes and dreams he can be recharged with some magic words like “the market is up” or “the quota is open”.