Good Clean Dirt

Ad photography by Paul Mobley.
Copyright Alltech,
printed by Beef Magazine
I was flipping through an issue of Beef magazine the other day and saw this advertisement for Alltech feeds. I was sitting next to my friend from Chicagoland (she calls it that, not me) and I showed it to her, thinking that this little dude in his Wranglers and his tiny Carhartt was pretty stinking cute.
Her response was to laugh, “Wow. Do they really start them that young?”

I responded with a story about my youngest brother. Before he could even talk, he was obsessed with machinery. One of the little rubber tracks came off of his little John Deer tractor, and he brought it to Mom so she could put it back on. However, once she put it on, he was very upset and agitated. But he couldn’t talk, so she couldn’t figure out what was wrong! Dad came in from fixing fence or feeding or whatever he was doing that day, and Jake immediately took him the tractor. Dad looked at it, pulled the track off, and put it back on with the treads facing the other direction. That satisfied Jake, and he happily went back to playing. Mom was dumbfounded. How had he known the tracks were facing the wrong direction? Well, he’d started young.

So why do we (agriculturalists) do that? I don’t know about you, but when I actually get around to producing offspring, I hope to get to spend a lot of time around them. I spent a lot of time with my parents growing up, and as a result, we are really close. My mom and I are literally BFFs. I’m also really, really close with my brothers. We were home schooled, and my dad worked as a ranch hand. So from an early age, we learned what it meant to be responsible for another living creature (our cattle, horses, dogs, chickens, cats, and even each other), to be responsible for equipment, and to take careful care of the land we depended on for our livelihood. We learned to work together, as a team, to get a job done. We learned to solve problems (how to fix a gate, change a tire, and patch a tank, etc.).  We learned to have adult conversations. Some of my favorite memories are of the early, foggy, Sandhills mornings I spent feeding those old black cows with my Dad. The smell of alfalfa, diesel and coffee still stirs those memories.  I don’t know how many corporate lawyers, car salesmen, grocery store owners, or laboratory technicians get to take their kid to work with them every day. Not that there are anything wrong with those jobs – heck, it takes all kinds to make the world go around. I’m just making the point: if you could take your kid(s) along with you every day, wouldn’t you?  

Sometimes when I tell my peers about episodes from my childhood, they laugh and say, “Wow. You have a really good memory. I don’t remember being 5 (or 3, or 6, or whatever).”
Well yeah, I have great recollection of a lot of awesome memories. When my brothers and I were kids we did stuff. We were like little sponges, with this innate love of learning and infinite amounts of energy. I know there were days we drove our mother nuts!
Photo courtesy of @iowa_corn

When I showed my Chicagoland friend this other picture, of this toddler playing in the corn, she laughed again. “In the city, we’d probably freak out and say “Oh my God, sanitize it!”
My derisive snort was accompanied by “Hey! That’s good clean dirt!”
And we both laughed.
But it’s true. Today, digging my hands into the soil still soothes my soul. There’s nothing better than fresh, post-rain air and good clean sunshine. Getting up with the sun and setting with it is a luxury I’ll never take for granted.

 That’s agriculture for you; every day is “take your kid to work day”. 

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