Year of the Farmer | Kelsey Pope: Farming the Next Generation

Welcome back to RamZone’s Year of the Farmer guest blogger series, where stories of life on the American farm are offered up by the people most qualified to tell them—American farmers. The goal of the series, of course, is to raise awareness during the Year of the Farmer of the values, ideals and simple pleasures associated with the farming life.

Last month, guest blogger Lisa Steele looked ahead to winter, reflecting on the challenges—and rewards—the harshest of the four seasons brings to the farm. This month, returning blogger Kelsey Pope wonders what farming might look like for the generations to come.

Farming the Next Generation

By Kelsey Pope

Kelsey-Pope-1Did you know one of a farmer’s favorite things to do is to sit down with a bag of pistachios and watch some baseball? It’s even better after a hard day’s work of moving cows, checking water and working on the farmer’s tan. This is too true for one of my favorite farmers, my dad.

One of his favorite pastimes is going to baseball games. Growing up, Dad would get us out of school early and we would drive to Denver to watch the afternoon Colorado Rockies game. At the end of the day, though, he is still a rancher who has to think about that calf he got in earlier in the day, or the water tank that has a leak he needs to fix tomorrow. Ultimately, farmers and ranchers like my dad love what they do because if fulfills the drive they have to feed and provide for the world day after day. And this love for the land and drive to keep doing things better doesn’t just stick with the farmer. The family he is raising shares his love of the land and his work ethic as well.

My parents would say I went through phases as I was growing up, from farm girl to city-girl-wannabe and back to farm girl. When I was just learning to ride my bike, all I wanted to do was ride it on a smooth, cement sidewalk in town instead of our gravely drive. My mom called me “lavender & lace,” not wanting to get dirty outside or ride with Dad in the farm truck. But I grew out of that phase and enjoyed working with Dad in the pens and breaking my own show heifers to lead on dusty, hot summer days. In high school I still loved ranch life, but I would imagine myself in my career someday, wearing working-girl suits and pumps, toting my briefcase from meeting to meeting. But that love of the land just can’t leave the heart of a farmer’s daughter. Even though I am in the agriculture working world now, and I do wear my suit and pumps occasionally, my love for agriculture still shows as I wear my coveralls and muck boots when I sort through calves in the muddy alleyway.

Kelsey-Pope-3This notion of the next generation of farming has become even more important to me recently, as my husband and I welcomed our son into our family in September. The future of agriculture and sustainability has always been a high priority for me, but looking into my son’s eyes, I wonder even more what farming will look like when he graduates from high school (in 2032—it seems so far off!), or even when he is starting his career. I want him to have the same experiences that I did—growing up in agriculture and having a passion and appreciation for the agricultural industry. But for him to obtain this enthusiasm of mine, we need to preserve agriculture and the farming way of life. Just as his papa and I enjoy different aspects of life off of the farm, we gaze at our livelihoods in that of a hard day’s work and deem the reward far too great to want anything else except to carry on that legacy.

Being a farmer might include a few baseball games or occasional days of dressing up like a working girl. Those are the little things that farmers may take delight in. But when it comes to hard work and sustaining the farm for the next generation, farming doesn’t just take the farmer—it takes his family as well to help carry on. And I look forward to my son taking pleasure in this reward someday.

Kelsey-Pope-2Read more from Kelsey Pope by visiting her blog Ag on the Forefront.

*This guest blogger was compensated by Ram Trucks