When I first took the job as editor of Potato Grower and realized I’d need to write a column for the beginning of each issue, I put some serious thought into what I wanted this space to be.
Should it be a simple, witty preview of the rest of the magazine, like many editors fittingly do? Or maybe, I thought, it would be a good opportunity to rant and rave about the farce American politics often seems to be. Maybe a recap of what I’ve seen and done as editor in the last month. Or advice on making a farm thrive in the 21st century. Or a chance to show off whatever newfound knowledge about the potato industry I may have recently come across.
Ultimately I chose to make this space an extension of myself—to humanize Potato Grower a little bit. I’m by no means a political savant, nor am I much of plant or soil scientist. I’ve accepted that no one wants to open up a publication and be immediately greeted with griping, no matter how justified the lamentation. And I’m fairly certain I know less than most of you about winning at the farming game.
So I chose to make “Between the Rows” a place to show you who I am and what’s good about life in the agriculture sector. Because, while I may not be an expert on everything I’d like to be, I am a guy who is passionate about agriculture and its future and who appreciates the foundation this industry has provided for his life. I’m fortunate enough to have grown up knee-deep in agriculture (sometimes deeper, depending on how wet spring was) and to stay close to the industry in my career. My life is good.
As a society, it’s become fashionable to appear as grumpy as humanly possible. “Putting on a good face” has come to mean “Don’t smile.” Finding a cloud’s silver lining, in many of our minds, is the same as putting lipstick on a pig. Optimism is now naïveté.
In all fairness, there’s a lot to be pessimistic about. Congress often isn’t friendly to us; even when they profess to be in-fighting makes it impossible to make anything happen through that channel in the next several eons. Consumer skepticism continues to grow. New plant diseases seem to pop up every week or two. And if it’s not a seven-year drought, it’s a hundred years’ flood.
A good friend of mine once gave me this sage advice: “Being miserable is miserable. Don’t do it.” I’ve tried to let that little nugget guide my life ever since. Being in a foul mood is no fun, and I’d rather not do it.
Farmers and ranchers are, by virtue of their job description, optimists. You simply don’t put your entire living in the hands of Mother Nature year after year without a considerable amount of faith. Sure, there’s a lot going against us, but time and again I’ve seen growers take it right in the teeth only to get back up, ready for another whallop. They get up, keep going…and succeed. Because, deep down, no matter what they may say, they love what they do.
You are the best people on God’s green earth. And every day you get to live and work with the rest of the world’s greatest people. Your life is good.
Now go out and enjoy it.