Last summer, I was admiring a farmer’s antique tractor. He informed me that the restoration project was undertaken partially because it was a challenge, but also because the men who share this interest are his friends. Frankly, he said, his farming neighbors could care less about him. They would be happy if he died so they can get their hands on his land.
    
Another farmer told me, some farmers were happy rents and land prices were so high, because it kept the young guys from getting started, meaning there were less farmers competing for land.
    
Welcome to the world of agriculture, young men and women. Getting started farming has never been easy, in my estimation. Yet, one can understand why you want to–it is a vocation one is called to and has to be the best place to raise a family. Freedom to be your own man, with a bond between the farm, yourself and God.
    
There is something good and noble about producing food that is important to sustaining life.
    
That’s why arrogance, egotistical actions and covetous thoughts have no place in farm country. Yet they exist in any size or style of farming operation there is.
    
Successful farmers are often belittled, even when the achievement results from honest hard work, thrift and risks that made good. The progress on their farms ought to be admired, setting a standard for others to works towards.
    
Things have been changing on the farm with older retiring farmers facing a lot of uncertainty. They wonder if they have accumulated enough to last. At they same time wonder what will happen to their life’s work when they are gone. Especially now as the inheritance tax is set to most of what they have laid up for their children.
    
His situation may not seem a problem at all. There are enough obstacles in your path to. Such as finding an opportunity, then acquiring the capital and make a living.
    
Do you think that just because you are young,  that a landlord should sign a contract with you based on that alone?
    
You might be dealing with someone who has invested his life in that farm. He raised his family there, through drought, hailstorms, bumper yields, with good or low prices.
    
He was the land’s caretaker, keeping ditches mowed, digging every fence post by hand. In the barn milking cows before daybreak, cleaning out hog barns because the money they generated helped to pay the mortgage off.
    
Seldom taking a day off, they don’t understand how snowmobiling trips in the winter and summer weekends at the lakes are considered normal budget expenditures. Nor why cable t.v. and multiple cell phones are necessary.
    
Remember these are the people who chose to eat eggs for supper and oatmeal for their breakfast because that is what the pocketbook said they could afford. Coffee came from the old pot on the stove that you added cream from the top of the milk jar too, not a glorified mocha latte.
    
They somehow understood that for every dollar not delegated back into the farm, it took x number of bushels to pay for money spent elsewhere. Later in life, some did begin taking trips or wintering down south, enjoying the fruits of their labor.
    
Young farmer, why should they entrust their land and livestock to you?
    
But then again, why not? He was once a young farmer at one time too, looking for an opportunity.

Essays from My Farm House Kitchen | Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Renae B. Vander Schaaf, freelance writer, lives on a real working farm in northwest Iowa.

To Contact Renae B. Vander Schaaf, please email her at [email protected]