I’ve spent some time close to the earth in the past few weeks. From sewing grass seed, to picking blueberries, to mulching the family garden with old hay, I’ve been sunburned, tick-bitten and hot and sweaty. My mom and I weeded the potato patch a few Fridays back, and as the sun beat down on us, and sweat ran down our faces, she reminded me that sometimes you have to really spend time in the sun to appreciate the shade.
As farmers and producers, we know what it means to work hard with the basic elements of the earth, to produce goods and products. I think we, America’s farmers, have a greater understanding of many things by having an understanding of, and a strong respect for the simpler things in life:  Hard work, the value of a nice shade tree when you’re hot, putting in consistent and committed effort to cultivate a product. We understand the rudimentary, building block facets of life – life, from start to finish, struggles and hardship first emulated by the plants and animals. We then watch as these same events play out in our own lives.
I think we draw more than we realize from those moments in the sun, when we’re sweaty and wishing simply that the shade tree across the pasture was just a little bit closer. When we watch as the miracle of life charges forward before our very eyes in our growing calves, lambs, kids. When it’s so dry and yet life struggles to advance. When it’s so hot but you get back on the tractor anyway.
This summer I hope you are able to appreciate the hard work, the hot sun, and also your time in the shade, as you toil on your land. I’m going to take time to consider the significance of our labor this summer. I hope you’ll do the same.
God Bless,


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