Note from Dr. Farmer:
I am turning over the reigns of this column after my farewell column next week. Mike and I discussed how best to make a transition. We decided that Mike would be offered a guest column to introduce himself prior to his official beginning in April.
I remember my first column January 1, 1984. I wrote of my intentions, desires, and goals to write for a rural audience. I hope that the column will go as well for him as it has done for me.
Note from Dr. Rossmann:
In a couple of weeks I will have the opportunity and the honor of taking over the authorship of this column. Since 1984 Dr. Val Farmer has capably addressed family and rural life issues experienced by people engaged in farming, ranching and related occupations. Now that Dr. Farmer is retiring, I am taking over the production of a regular feature that offers opinions and advice about the human problems experienced by farm people and how we can manage them.
Dr. Farmer leaves big shoes to fill. He has done much to make it okay for farm people to talk about family and emotional issues. I hope I can do as well as he has to address these sensitive matters.
What we control. So many of the factors that are important to farming successfully are outside our control. We can’t control the weather. We have limited influence on markets, policies that regulate agriculture, and only a little more control over such factors as disease outbreaks and machinery breakdowns.
But we have a lot of control over our behaviors. We choose whether or not we get enough productive sleep, take time to communicate to our family members and work partners, whether we consume a proper diet, recreate, pray, and engage in the many activities that take care of our minds and bodies. We choose whether or not to take risks, to plan properly and to communicate honestly.
This column is about managing the most important resource in farming the producers and our families.
My background. I grew up on a grain and livestock farm in western Iowa and was highly involved in 4H and all aspects of our farm. My wife, Marilyn, and I made the choice when we left faculty positions at the University of Virginia in 1979 to raise our children on a farm.
We moved to Iowa to live on our own farm near to where I grew up. I raised registered Simmental cattle and developed an organic farm which I operated for 22 years while also working full time as a clinical psychologist. Now I am an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa where I teach agricultural behavior health to medical and behavioral healthcare professionals.
Because I am gone from home so much to lecture around the country (The cattle get out of their pens only when I am gone, you know!), I now rent our row cropland to a capable local farmer. Recently I authored "Excellent Joy: Fishing, Farming, Hunting and Psychology,"which is a celebration of life through observations of subtle nuances involving agriculture, outdoor recreation and related endeavors. It is available from www.icecubepress.com and most book stores and internet merchants.
Farming is a calling. This column is about where our hearts are at. If our hearts aren’t in farming, we won’t be good agricultural producers. Most people who produce food, fiber and renewable energy do it more for the satisfaction than for the financial rewards.
We feel we are carrying out a calling to be producers of essentials for life that’s what makes us most happy about our work as agricultural producers. Not resolving the painful worries, relationship problems and human concerns that accompany farming can break our spirits.
We have to address these subjects that are so difficult to talk about. This column is about understanding ourselves and our friends and neighbors engaged in various aspects of agriculture.
Topics I will write about. While I have a number of important topics that I plan to address that arise from my 33 years counseling farm families, I invite your suggestions about topics you want to address.
I bring my experience as an agricultural producer and my expertise as a clinical psychologist who has devoted his life to understanding and improving the behavioral well-being of people engaged in farming. I look forward to helping with issues that are sticky ones like family disagreements about the farm operation, anxieties and uncertainties that accompany farming–the kinds of issues that Dr. Val Farmer addresses.
I am in the process of setting up a dedicated website for this column, but for now you can learn about my work at: www.agriwellness.org, or contact me at [email protected]. Please let me know what’s on your mind and in your heart. – Mike Rosmann, Ph.D.
Dr. Farmer’s book on marriage, "To Have and to Hold" is on sale for $8.00 each plus $2.95 for shipping and handling. Shipping for additional books is free. A second book, "Honey, I Shrunk the Farm," can be purchased for $7.50 with no shipping charge. For the next month, the "Rural Stress Survival Guide" will be included free of charge when both books are ordered. Send a check or money order to: JV Publishing, PO Box 207, Grover MO 63040.)