A Life Of Sacrifice & High Courage
Teddy Roosevelt once said, "A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage... For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.”
It’s calving season around here. The days are long. The weather has not been kind. And we are weary from lack of sleep.
Yet, there’s nothing else we would rather do than working the land, tending to the livestock, and raising our kids in this agricultural community we love.
And Teddy’s quote rings so true for those of us living and working in production agriculture.
Here’s how I see it:
Agriculture is rife with risk. And it’s certainly not a soft, easy life.
Yet, the challenges of this lifestyle strengthen the moral fabric of the heart.
The challenges are great, and the toil is immense, but the fruits of our labor with each harvest make the sacrifice worthwhile.
It takes high courage to face each day, knowing the deck is often stacked against you to succeed.
And it’s that courage that assists us in taking the risk, investing in the land, buying more cattle, planting more acres, diversifying our operations, connecting with consumers, developing a premium-earning niche, and fighting a system that often leaves small- and medium-sized producers in the dust.
Agriculture is a life of action — no two days are the same. We get up each day with the sunrise, putting on our coveralls, pulling on our boots, slapping on a hat, slipping on our gloves, and heading outside to face the tasks of the day head on.
It requires strenuous performance. Hard labor. Working with our hands. Navigating through equipment breakdowns. Innovating. Creating. Inventing. Problem solving. Our performance each day dictates the progress we can make with each passing year and with every generation.
Our duty is to be caregivers. It’s the calling God has chosen us for. That means lovingly taking care of a bottle calf. And bedding the cattle ahead of a storm. It means chopping ice in the water tanks. And making sure the livestock are fenced in and secure. It means putting their needs before our own. It requires sacrifice, and it’s not just a duty, but it is an honor.
Agriculture requires us to strive mightily — to take on the heartache, the hardships, the sacrifice, the long hours, and the incredible risk — and to choose to continue to move one step forward knowing that things might not work out as we had planned.
And yet if things do work out, and our plans are perfectly executed, the next crop, the next harvest, the next set of calves — well it could be our best ever, and so we continue to push forward. Motivated. Determined. Excited. Focused.
This agriculture life isn’t for the faint of heart. We work long days with very little reward sometimes. However, when we look at the rich blessings we have in good years and bad, we know that every pain, every tear, and every plan gone awry is worth the toil.
So Teddy, I agree with you. Let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out. So when we get to the end of our life, we know we lived it fully, putting our whole heart into a noble pursuit.
Yes, that’s American agriculture. And these are my people.