The United States is still an agrarian nation. They just don’t realize it. But as long as food on the table is needful for sustaining life, agriculture matters. It may be maligned, hated and misrepresented; but is still vital to a quality of life we all expect and hold dear.

In March we celebrate agriculture. Appropriately so, as the month is a time of rebirth, new life is evident everywhere. Even on our wintry day walks, it is plain to see that maple tree buds are beginning to swell.

The morning sunrise colors spread across the skies noticeably earlier than last week. Our barns and yards are bursting with new life, calves, colts, goats and  lambs. Sleepless nights filled with barn checks are alleviating just a mite.

The sounds of peeping chicks can be heard when we enter any farm store. Often surrounded by farm and town folk alike we marvel at the these cute little fluff balls, so fragile but full of life.

No matter the season, the dairy farmers are seeing that store shelves are filled with nutrient rich milk. Inventories of eggs, pork, other animal based foods so necessary for good health are continuously replenished as the result of devoted husbandry daily done on our farms.

Plans are being finalized for sowing seeds in our gardens and fields. In some parts of this land of plenty it is already in progress. Others of us are still watching the snow increase. Those of us waiting for snow to melt are anxiously waiting for the day we can once again feel that life-sustaining soil in our hands.

Winter storms will soon give way to sunnier days. We sense almost before we hear the trickle of water as the snow banks melt. Flocks of geese in their amazing

‘V’ formation make their presence known as their honking alerts us that spring is traveling northward, thirty miles a day.

In two months daffodils and tulips will be blooming on this farm, the result of labor last fall. Farmers are the eternal optimists as we lay the groundwork for what we hope is a  bountiful harvest.

A farmer looks forward to this year’s growing season even as he reflects on the good and what went wrong last year. Taking that all in account as well as winter’s research in order to do all he can to have a successful year. He realizes the work he does not only affect his minute self on this earth, but his fellow country men in the cities and neighbors abroad who depend on his diligence.

At the same time, he realizes his days are as grass, so he strives to keep the land in better shape the short time he is its caretaker. He has a charge to keep while he labors

Statesman Daniel Webster long ago said, "Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization."

The pioneering farmer with his plow, axe, milk cow and family Bible had much to do with settling this great land. He ventured forth from the comforts of home to raise his family in untamed lands, relying on the work of his two hands and his unwavering faith in God.

Through the years, work and faith has been his strength. If Daniel Webster is correct that farmers are the founders of civilization, then it is extra important that we cultivate in our own hearts and lives the fruit of the spirit, weeding out any contrary traits.


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]