By Nathan Smith

A landscape shot, complete with black Angus cattle in a green wheat field, was the first thing I saw on my Facebook timeline early last week. The picture was taken from horseback and the cutline from one of my rancher friends in West Texas read, “I get to do this for a living.”

So many of the farmers and ranchers I know have this mindset. Most of the people in agriculture today aren’t in it for the glory or the riches–there is little of either in the business. They farm and ranch because it’s in their hearts and in their roots.

Making a living in agriculture can be rewarding. But if you don’t love it, you probably won’t find a lasting success. It’s not easy, and it takes a special person to see the silver lining in the dark clouds that sometimes form.

Farmer and ranchers are the most optimistic bunch of people I’ve known—even if they try to hide it at the coffee shop. They rally through droughts and low markets, even plagues of insects and bad farm policy, to pull up another tomorrow and work a little harder the next year to make up the difference.

I admire those men and women who aren’t afraid of risk. They understand that hard work is the only path to success.

Consider the courage of a farmer who plants a seed in hope of a rain tomorrow or a rancher who cares for her livestock first and herself second. These folks truly are the salt of the earth. They are humble and unwilling to stand in the spotlight. They are more comfortable doing what they love in the fields and pastures across the state.

I’m thankful for their passion and pride in their craft.

They provide for the rest of us who are unwilling or unable to take the risks and make the sacrifices. It’s gratitude in my heart for my friend and so many like him who get to do this for a living.

Nathan Smith is a Texas Farm Bureau field representative.