There is a reason why farmers rank near the top of the list as most likely to die by suicide.
While the life is by far one of the most rewarding and satisfying, it comes with costs.
The stress from having to get a crop in, maintain that crop, and then harvest a crop is unreal. Until you have personally known a farmer, there is no way you can fathom what goes thru a farmers mind during the year.
Having to risk thousands and thousands of dollars to get a crop in to possibly make a profit at year's end, makes a farmer one of the biggest gamblers on the Earth.
In a instant, anytime, anywhere, our crops and years work can be wiped out by a flood, drought, hail, tornado, insects (both above ground and below), weed pressure, etc. Is always on the back of our minds. Yes most of us carry insurance... but that doesn't cover it all. Knowing all this is primarily out of our control, exercises our faith that God will see us through.
Being ridiculed by the general public for driving up and down the highways with our big, slow equipment, cussed at, yelled at, flipped off...makes our days that much more difficult. Trying to keep our fields weed free, Only to be labeled planet killers, bad for environment, can't do this, can't do that, being turned in by city people when they don't even have a clue... sigh.
Trying to better ourselves and build our business, only to be shunned by neighbors who we've known for years, went to school with, laughed and cut up with... when in fact all we was doing was bettering ourselves and not trying to step on toes.
Having to constantly be concerned with bigger farms or neighbors sneaking around trying to undercut you on ground. Some will cut your throat just so they can make a dime.
Not being able to make social events, take off early and go somewhere because it's planting/harvest season and a big rain is coming. For those that are single, loneliness sets in from not spending time with other people. For those that are married, you miss your spouse and/or kids.
Having to market crops when prices are out of control, and change literally by the minute. Chemicals, seed, fertilizer, fuel etc are astronomical and we are trying to make things work.
Equipment malfunctions, breakdowns, etc cost us money, downtime, and we don't know if we can get a part or not in a timely fashion.
Early morning starts and late night runs... when work needs done we sacrifice our sleep and rest for days on end.
All of these are just the tip of the iceberg. I could write a novel on what all we deal with.
Why do we bother with farming?
*Because we were called to be a farmer.* We love to smell the freshly turned soil, feel the dirt as it flows through our fingers. We love to see the seeds we plant sprout, emerge and grow into a beautiful productive crop. We enjoy the challenge of a crop. Every year is different. Every crop is different. We enjoy seeing our friends wave at us as they go by on their own equipment as we are in our own. The conversations of "how are yall getting along?" Or "how's planting or harvest going?" Are something we look forward to. We enjoy interacting with our land owners, seed reps, chemical and fertilizer dealers, and our bankers.
We enjoy what God has placed in front of us to tend to. "The farmer sows the word" Mark 4:14
We aren't bad people. We are good, honest, hardworking people that want to make it home just like you. So next time you want to gripe about the cost of food, fuel, or complain about being stuck behind a tractor on a highway...instead of being angry, please remember the first sentence I wrote on this post.
Written by a farmer (Brandon Shelton) for farmers (and all of us!)
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of self harm or suicide, please reach out!!
Here 24/7 at 1-844-437-3247, Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566, and The Farmer Wellness Initiative at 1-866-267-6255. All 3 of these services are free and readily available 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year.