Life’s Lows Make Us Appreciate the Highs More

Farming can be an emotional roller coaster. Spring is a season of excitement as the weather warms up, and the grass turns green. I always look forward to a new planting season. Planting season is a high point, but I’m bracing for the lows that are sure to come. You never know when weather, weeds or bugs will change the fate of one’s crop. Yes, farming is filled with peaks and valleys.

Recently, I’ve been moving grain to town. I enjoy hauling grain, but the current market prices are a serious downer. More ups and downs…

The past week has been filled with more highs and lows. On April Fool’s Day, I enjoyed reading about the pranks being pulled. Cristen Clark shared how she celebrates April Fool’s Farm Style. Another prank I enjoyed was a video about a marshmallow farmer talking about his ruined crop. As my wife Janice and I watched that video, she reminded me that many people will believe it’s true.

Going from the high of enjoying the joke to the reality that we have not informed people how we grow food was another “roller coaster moment.” I couldn’t help but remember Desmund Adams asking me why we don’t we take Ag in the Classroom to Chicago because he grew up not knowing meat comes from animals.

Last Tuesday in my blog post, I shared how the way we care for livestock has changed throughout the years. In the “good old days,” we raised pigs outside in extreme cold or heat. They were exposed to disease and insects. Baby pigs were often sunburned because the momma sow was trying to stay cool in a mud puddle rather than seeking of pigs

Contrast the methods of yesteryear to today’s climate-controlled hog barns where there’s a barn designed to meet the pigs’ needs from the time they’re born until they’re shipped to market. Pigs in my feeder operation are content. When it’s below zero outside, my pigs are warm inside. When it’s rainy and damp – like this week’s forecast for North Central Iowa – my pigs don’t get chilled and they stay dry. When it is 100 degrees in the shade like it is during many summer days, my pigs stay cool and don’t suffer sunburn.

I can see the huge improvements to animal agriculture made during my life time! Yet, comments left under my blog last week attack the way I farm! Situations like this make me doubt the price of advocating… Is sharing my story worth the ups and downs?

Agvocating, just like the rest of my “chores,” is full of ups and downs. I know those comments on my blog came from the anti-animal groups. All of the talking points were the same old points, which tells me they were given to people to use that have never been on a farm! Nonetheless, advocating is definitely an emotional roller coaster.

When I did my first “big” newspaper interview about antibiotics in animal agriculture, I almost said enough is enough! The reporter had his story written before he came to talk to me. He just needed to “interview” a real pig farmer to make it seem like he had researched pig farming. Of course, nothing I said was in the story. He only included my picture holding a pig! Since that first newspaper interview, I’ve learned to use pictures of pigs to my advantage! People love pictures of pigs. Highs and lows…

Now I’m working to get my current group of pigs to market. Two pig barns will be emptied this week, and repairs will be needed. Each barn must be cleaned and disinfected before new pigs arrive. I always look forward to bringing in cute little pigs, and I’ll receive a new group this Thursday. That’s a time I enjoy, but the pigs can also develop problems.

All I can do is try my best, and I was reminded of this “life lesson” in church on Sunday. Without the pain and suffering that occurred on Good Friday, we wouldn’t experience the joy of Easter morning.

Life’s low points definitely make you appreciate the highs. That reminds me of a short story, “I Wish You Enough,” which I recently read on Facebook:


I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain, so the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.