Thawing before the heater
During a cold spell this winter
The farmer innocently asked
What is that envelope on my desk?

"Nothing important," was the answer
"You can look at it later."
The cold weather stayed
That envelope still laid
Unnoticed, innocuous, harmless
Until the postcard appearance
Threatening dire consequences
If we did not return the census
Census, already? No Way!
How has five years gone by?
Look at all those pages
To do this will take us ages!

Never fear, question one is easy
There is no reason to feel queasy
I soon realized the farmer
Could do this best alone, undisturbed
Papers strewn everywhere
Looking for that perfect figure
After hours of groaning
The farmer did take his coat

Hey, you can’t leave now!
Oh yes, something must be done
The chicken and turkey amount
We must indeed count
But they are just pets
It doesn’t matter one bit
Fill in the little circles
Shading so perfect a swirl

Way back we were in training
With the Iowa Basic Skill testing
Back then we wondered its purpose
As we do now with the census

Which is more snoopy than a farmer
Interrogating a daughter’s prospective suitor

If it’s is to determine who gets
The grants and subsidy monies

Then let us all do without
There would be complaints, no doubt!
Grant writers, special interest lobbyists
Would join the unemployment list

But as America’s self-reliance revived
Jobs aplenty will make us productive
Taxpayers would smile just a mite
At the lessoning tax bite
But since there must be good rationale
Or Secretary of Agriculture TomVilsack
Would not remind us so often
That February 4 soon cometh…
Sharpen that pencil!
I wish you well.


February 4 has come and gone
But do not look so forlorn
That Dodge commercial
Has reminded us all

That God created the farmer
To be the earth’s caretaker
After the morning prayer
He does his work with care
Producing food, fiber and fuel
So that the world’s tables are full
Of just simply good nourishing food
That is life sustaining, man’s daily bread
Dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit, grains
In drought or with timely rain
Ours is a sacred trust
To protect our land is a must
The land brings forth its fruit
Cared for well it will not disappoint
Those who come behind us
Farming the land that is cherished
Ours is also the challenge to truly be
The men and women Paul Harvey
Described so well in his talk
‘Tis a worthy way for us to walk
The farmer does his best
Knowing God will do the rest
Labor, time and money he invests
Hoping for a bountiful harvest
Daily he tends to the farm animals
Entrusted to his husbandry skills
He researches, tinkers with ideas
That will help mankind live in ease
Perhaps his day was one of tribulation
Or a he wears a broad smile of jubilation
It doesn’t matter
For he too shall utter

This grateful prayer –
Thank God, for the farmer!

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]