Growing up, I never imagined that I would some day marry a dairy farmer. In fact, I really didn’t give farming much thought as a child. I was a child of wild land firefighter and had deep family roots in the timber industry. Most everyone I knew was involved in some aspect of timber from logging to putting out the flames when the forest caught fire.
My grandparents owned a logging business. When I stayed with them, I would wake up to the loggers showing up before the sun came up to head to their work site. They would show up later that evening completely filthy and exhausted. I remember thinking how I never wanted to be a logger because they had to get up early, worked all day and got incredibly dirty. As I got older it became obvious that not only were they working long hours but they were also not getting rich cutting down trees or hauling logs to the local mills. They did it to provide for their families and jobs in our small rural community have always been hard to come by.
My mom and dad met when they both worked as firefighters. My mother ended up staying home to raise my brother and I but my dad continued to fight fires throughout my childhood. Even though they tried to keep the conversations private, I often heard stories of firefighters that lost their lives, families that lost everything and the many dangers that came with fighting fires. I knew the dangers but I also knew that these men/women were the ones running in when everyone else was running out. They had no idea what to expect with each fire but they went anyway.
It never failed, my dad spent more time away from the family than with us during summer fire season. I remember praying that people wouldn’t do something stupid or storms would stay away just so he could be at my birthday parties in July. It never failed, someone always seemed to light fireworks where they shouldn’t have, throwing cigarettes out of the car was and still is the norm and I could swear that lightning strikes seemed to smolder and wait to flare up just in time for my party.
But you know what? My dad was the hardest working man I knew and I was so proud of what he did to help others. He would be gone for days or weeks on end and pull in the driveway in the middle of the night only to fall into bed from exhaustion just to provide for his family. We were not rich by any means but we had what we needed.
I am thankful for my childhood being completely surrounded by hard-working middle class men and women. I believe it prepared me for life as a farmer. Some of the most hard-working men/women I know are farmers but at the end of the day I know that there are many, many other occupations that work just as hard, face similar struggles and are the backbone of this great nation.
As farmers, what we do is important, I wholeheartedly believe that. Every day we go out and do what we love to provide for our families. Let us not forget however, the rest of the working class that bust their backs to also provide for their families. Let us not forget the men/women that work hard to provide the timber for that new barn expansion, the fuel for our equipment, the truckers that take what we grow/raise from farm to customer and so many others that do not get the recognition that they deserve.
Here’s to the men and women that make up the working class. Thank you.