Just a few miles down the road from our farm is a dairy farm.
Just like us, they sell beef. And just like us, the kids of the farm spend many sweltering summer hours picking sweet corn to sell to our local community.
You’d think we might be in direct competition with one another. In fact, at one point the community thought we were feuding because we had differing political signs at the end of our driveways. We all laughed as our two-red-light town wrongly speculated. We had no squabble with one another. Politics isn’t worth dividing our friendship and neither is us both selling the same produce.
We don’t compete with one another, we help cultivate each other.
(For the record, the political sign at the end of their driveway was absolutely the best choice to make. I’m not above admitting our past mistakes.)
Last evening Steve, the patriarch of the farm, drove up to our house. The baby and I went over to his pickup to greet him as he chatted with my husband. I told him I had just shared on social media the sweet corn advertisement his grandkids had created. I told him I hoped some of our customers would be able to buy from their farm this year.
“Why? You out of corn already?” he asked.
“No, actually the hogs got it all. We don’t have enough left over to host a sale,” I said.
He reached in the back of his truck and pulled out a bottle, “Here, try this.”
He handed us a bottle of an animal repellent. He explained that you can put it around the perimeter of the crops you don’t want pests to raid. The product had worked for them. He gave us his last bottle and suggested we buy the liquid form in bulk next year to keep the hogs out.
We’d been trying to keep those darned hogs out all summer.
In fact, Jonathan, who is Steve’s son, spent several hours trying to help us trap the raiders. But alas, too many hogs had already swept through the field for us to salvage the crop.
So, we were left with no sweet corn to sell. My kids were bummed because they love picking and selling it. Our customers were disappointed because they loved coming out to the farm and buying in bulk. My husband and father-in-law were disappointed because we just lost money and time.
But instead of being full-on disappointed, I feel a bit inspired by the whole ordeal.
I feel hopeful because Steve’s gesture of passing that bottle shows me that kindness and generosity and a love your neighbor spirit exists. The farm down the road could have easily been happy that our crop didn’t make (more customers for them!), but instead, they spent time (albeit unsuccessful) helping us try to make our crop.
I’m honestly not surprised by his gesture.
You see, this giving spirit of rural America, the help your neighbor mentality, is common to our area. I bet it’s common to your area, too.
Farmers are the salt of the Earth. Often farmers don’t just plant seeds, but they help the farmer down the road plant seeds, too. They lend equipment to one another, they lend labor to one another, they lend advice (and jabs) to one another, and they help each other keep out invading animals.
Farmers often lend without thinking about what it might take away from them. Why? Because we know we are all about the greater good. The feeding of America. And because helping each other out is just who we are as a people group.
Hey friend, go out and help cultivate someone else’s proverbial crop today. Just a simple gesture might not only help the situation but also plant the seeds of encouragement on the soul level. We all need a little bit of that right now, don’t we?
Farm out some love.