“A farmer understands when he puts that seed in the ground that there are no guarantees. You roll the dice and hope for the best.” Kent continued, “ That’s the hardest part about farming …the unknown. Part of that is the weather. We don’t control it, and it’s frustrating when you have a nice crop in the field, not far from harvest, and a hail storm takes it away from you. You knew that going in, that there’s no guarantees when you put that seed in the ground. You just have to deal with it the best you can. “
“What’s the best part about farming” , I asked?
He smiled and continued.
“The best part about farming is having my family with me. It means a lot to have my children work alongside me…working together to raise food because that harvest is what’s going to allow us to go another day and another year. That harvest is going to allow my children to have a chance to go to college. [That harvest] is going to provide food not just for my kids but for our country and other countries.”
As someone who grew up far removed from farming, I started to understand the life of a family farm.
Even though a farmer sows his seeds in the fall, that doesn’t mean she or he is guaranteed a harvest in the spring. The hail may ruin the year’s work and plans in seconds. Drought may scorch your soil and spirits at the same time and leave you wondering where that next pay check may come from. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it because people like Kent are passionate about farming. It’s in his blood. He’s passionate about providing for his family and for his children’s’ education.
Despite all the uncertainties farmers face, there is one thing I am certain of. Farmers like Kent work tirelessly for the hopes of their children.
So this coming fall when I look out into the landscape dotted by red, green, and yellow tractors, I won’t just see a farmer planting; I will see a farmer hoping. I will see a farmer hoping a planted seed turns into a harvest that will sustain them for one more year. I will see a farmer hoping for a harvest that will allow his or her family to continue a tradition and fulfill a calling. I will see hope for a college education, and I will see a selfless hope for families like mine across the world that don’t farm but have hopes as well.
As I see those tractors in the fall, I will think of a great, collective hope shared by every farmer in this nation that is building in anticipation. And as the fall slips into another winter slumber, I will think of the upcoming golden harvest of summer. But most of all, I will hope for the farmer.
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Scott Stebner is an agricultural photographer who specializes in creating unique and telling portraits of American agriculture.