Photos and story by Kody Hajda
It’s 11:30 on a Saturday night, and my husband is just getting home.
Where has he been? Out with friends? Bar? No, he’s been on the farm, working to the point of exhaustion and unable to keep his eyes open. He’s been in the cab of a combine, staring at the never-ending sea of row after row of corn. That magical crop that makes the world go ’round in so many ways.
It not only feeds us, it feeds the livestock that feed us. The livestock that give us tires, plastics, medicine and more. It goes into the fuel that powers our lives. It’s so much more than a cob waiting for a delicious dab of butter.
He’s sitting down for dinner now after the kids and most of society are asleep.
He wasn’t here for grace, for the sunset, for bedtime snuggles.
He was on the farm.
Modern technology via smartphones with FaceTime gives him the only face-to-face he’ll have with his kids today.
They have school, sports, activities and homework. There was no time to ride with daddy. But he’ll mount his phone on the dash of the cab and chat with the kids briefly about their day. Hear their “I love you Daddy,” “I miss you Daddy” and “Goodnight Daddy” through a screen.
Does he come home complaining about the hours?
He plans on waking up and doing it all again tomorrow. And again for the next however many months it takes to bring the harvest in.
His schedule is completely dependent on the one thing none of us can control—the weather.
Does he get a break for the weekend? Nope. Break for the holidays? Not until the crop is in.
He takes a rest Sunday morning to worship, change and head back to the field.
With that many hours, he should be rich, right? Wrong. If you did the math, he makes less than minimum wage on an hourly scale. You see as the price of everything goes up, the farmer’s share stays the same. His expenses increase, but market speculators determine his salary. He has become more efficient, more innovative. But his salary doesn’t come with a signed contract each year, and it’s heavily influenced by individuals far removed from the field.
Then why does he do it? I ask that all the time.
He’s demonized on Facebook for killing the environment, poisoning people, murdering animals and the stereotype of being a “stupid” farmer.
But he loves it. He loves cultivating and conserving the land. He loves feeding the world. He loves caring for livestock. He loves and cares for his profession and the public enough to spend 15-18 hours a day alone in a cab doing this work. Can you think of anything you love that much to wear your body out for?
All this rambling has a point.
My point is to show you the actual face of the American farmer. I get it. The majority of Americans are about three degrees of separation from someone in agriculture. It’s hard to have a relationship with a farmer in the middle of a metropolis. You only know what you’ve seen on the news or was shared from a friend on Facebook.
This is a firsthand look at the man who cares about and loves his work. He cares about you, yes you, reading this right now. He doesn’t do this for the paycheck, the glory or the prestige, because honestly, it’s not there. It’s back-breaking labor that will wear his body down. But he feels a responsibility to every single person to provide safe and quality products to make your lives and mine go around.
Kody and her husband, Matt, farm and ranch in Williamson County with their two kids.