From time to time I find myself standing in the barnyard pondering at the sky. I almost feel an invisible bubble has been placed around our farmland we have come to know and center our lives around. While we are often in this bubble as a family we are not safe from the outside world. We are not exempt from temptation, anger and fear. We often let outsiders see into our bubble. May this be through a visit, photos, videos or story telling. All can peak in on our daily work in farmland. While some glimpses are liked and shared, others are disliked and questioned. As I stare at the sky I think, “If they only knew…”
If they only knew the sacrifices we make, the care we give, how we can experience happiness, sadness, fear, anger and pain all in the same day, yet still cling to hope and close our prayer with a thank you at the end of the day. I began singing worship in the barn yesterday. It calms me. At the end of the day dad’s body was in pain and felt broken from pouring concrete by hand in one of our barns. The concrete will improve the barns and keep them cleaner for the pigs. He began telling me stories about raising pigs outside for decades. The pigs would often get stuck in the mud and would not leave the barn after it was built during the blizzard of 1978, he still talks about to this day how the cows walked over the fence and into the barn. After his story telling was done we talked about our hopes and fears for the future of the farm. I think how many times my dad could have easily quit farming due to struggles physically and financially. He didn’t and I am thankful because my life would have been much different.
Being a farmer and seeing how we live gives me a different perspective on the world from others. No matter how many presentations I do, no matter how many stories I tell, they can never fully grasp what it is like to live how we do. Yet this won’t stop me from telling my story because no matter how much I may want to stay in my invisible bubble around our farmland, our farmland exists because people eat the food we produce. Less than two percent of our country’s population are farmers and have a farmland they call home. I want to connect people to farm life and help them understand why farmers do what we do so the rest of the population does not have to produce their own food. As the population increases, farmland and farmers do not. We must feed more with less and not compromise the land and health of the animals at the same time. We know it is a matter of time before we must raise more piglets to feed more people and give employees and ourselves a livelihood.
While growth can bring worries and fear, we also have hope in God. One of God’s leaders, Jerry Savelle, reminds me this, “TRANSITION is God’s way of PROMOTION.” My dad has done everything to make this farm what it is today and give my brother and I a gift of opportunity. While this has been my dad’s dream all his life, I have been a part of his dream for a reason. God continually puts us in times of transition where we must make more of our lives. Jerry Savelle’s daughter and my role model, Terri Savelle Foy, says, “Transition is necessary in order to pursue the NEXT assignment God has for your life… God promises to give you back MORE than what you’re willing to give up!” Mark 10:29-30 says, “Jesus replied, ‘Let me assure you that no one has ever given up anything – home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or property – for love of me and to tell others the Good News, who won’t be given back, a HUNDRED TIMES OVER, homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land – with persecutions.” During difficult times and uncertainty, I and reminded by Terri, “It’s so easy to settle for a comfortable life, but God never intended for you to just settle anywhere…if your dreams are POSSIBLE, you’re not dreaming big enough!” So as Terri encourages herself, I encourage myself and you to, “Fly, you can fly high or you can fly low. The higher you go, it will take you further from the nest.”