By Julie Tomascik

Calloused hands and sun-kissed skin. Mud on her boots and grease on his pants. Exhaustion is in their eyes, yet each step has the spring of earlier years.

He’s a farmer, and so is she.

They’re running tractors and plows from sun up to sun down. Working cattle and baling hay.

It’s not an easy job.

And that’s one of the top 10 reasons I respect farmers and ranchers

10. Farming and ranching is tough. Early mornings. Late nights. Long hours in between. They rarely complain. They just saddle up for the day and ride on through.

9. It’s a dirty job. No doubt about that. They come home covered in mud and grease. There are rips and tears in their clothes, and they often have a distinct smell.

8. Farmers and ranchers strive to improve with each crop and each year. They’re efficient and tech-savvy. And they’re the definition of sustainability.

7. They endure the demands of the field. Market swings can take their toll. And your consumer opinion could leave a harvest at risk.

6. Working in that Texas heat isn’t for the faint of heart. Several days of 100+ degrees can melt a person, but farmers and ranchers keep going. They make sure their livestock are cared for and their crops are harvested no matter what the heat index reads.

5. Vacation and weekends are words not often used on the farm, because there’s no break from feeding and caring for livestock, growing crops and teaching the next generation about agriculture.

4. They get their kids involved on the farm and ranch. They help with chores, ride in the combine during harvest or help move cattle to another pasture. Together, they’re building on the time-honored tradition of Texas agriculture.

3. Farmers and ranchers teach their kids the value of hard work, responsibility, time management, loyalty, respect and trust at an early age. Those are qualities we need in our future farmers and ranchers but also in our future Congressional leaders, teachers, coaches and businessmen and women.

2. They grow food, fiber and fuel for their families and mine. And they don’t even know all of their customers’ names. But that’s okay. Because their backyard can feed and clothe us. And they don’t ask for any thanks in return.

And the number one reason why I respect Texas farmers and ranchers…

1.They’re the first to lend a helping hand. When a neighbor is sick or in need of help, farmers and ranchers are there. And they serve on school boards, as community leaders or as volunteers—always working to better the area they live and work in.

Farming and ranching is a lifestyle. A labor of love. It’s the roots that hold a family legacy, brings communities together and fuels the world economy.

I think that deserves our respect.