By Jennifer Dorsett
Farmers grow our food, but we often take it for granted.
Sure, it may cross our minds from time to time, but have you ever stopped to really think about all that goes into running a farm or ranch? Or why so few are doing it these days?
Farming and ranching is a never-ending balancing act. And in a world of ever-increasing uncertainty surrounding crop and livestock prices, farming is downright risky.
It’s easy to understand not wanting to take on the risks and stress.
But who will grow our food and fiber without them? If there was an ad in the local paper, it would probably look something like this.
PAY: VARIES FROM SEASON TO SEASON (no steady paycheck)
- Solid work ethic is a must. Hours are long and varied, and weekend work will be required. Ability to run on little sleep and large quantities of coffee preferred.
- Must be able to drive a tractor. And back a trailer.
- Working knowledge of irrigation pivots, spray rigs, tractors, combines and hay balers, along with any other equipment in use. Proficient use of sandfighter desired.
- Diesel mechanic skills a plus. Ability to problem-solve on the fly and fix things with baling wire or duct tape and a prayer. Thorough understanding of Murphy’s law useful.
- Must not be afraid of large animals. Demonstrable ability to work livestock. Operate ear tagger, squeeze chute and other pertinent cattle-working equipment.
- Skilled at fence repair and corralling and returning loose livestock. Physical fitness is encouraged, though not required.
- Must show proof of current driver’s license and pesticide applicator license.
- Fluent ag-speak preferred, but not required. On-the-job education available.
Job function and tasks
- Ability to assess crops and pastures, including but not limited to: corn, cotton, grain sorghum, soybeans, wheat, oats, specialty crops and improved and native grasses.
- Determine correct application rates of water, fertilizer and pesticides for crops. Accurately estimate input costs to sales ratio and try to at least break even.
- Troubleshooting problems and fixing equipment. This includes tractors, combines, sprayers, irrigation pumps, etc.
- Assess forage quality and availability and rotate livestock. Ensure sufficient water supply daily for animals. Put out new mineral blocks and feed as necessary.
- Watch weather forecasts religiously. Drive around farm muttering while looking at wilted plants.
Ability to take setbacks in stride. Significant amount of worry and prayer involved. Clothing will occasionally be ruined by mud, oil, etc.
- Office with a view.
- Bring your dog to work. Can even bring your horse to work!
- Communal environment at coffee shop.
- Pressure washer provided on-site for cleanup.
- Farm-fresh produce occasionally distributed.
Please contact a local farmer or rancher if interested.
Reading that makes me tired, and it’s only a small glimpse of what farmers and ranchers do.
So, when you walk down the grocery store aisle, think of the farm families working year-round for all of us. It’s no easy task.