As editors, we cover a wide breadth of unique events. Not only covering, but being part of the “Rural Life Days” with the Most Reverend David Ricken, bishop of the Green Bay Catholic Diocese, certainly fits in that category. As part of the mass held in Brillion, Wis., farmers brought tractors, seeds, cows, calves, and even farm dogs. That’s where I fit into the equation, as Josh Krahn, herdsman at our family farm, and I brought a cow, calf, and, yes, a farm dog to mass.
After blessing the seeds for the spring planting in the church, Bishop Ricken came out into the parking lot on that cold, rainy day and blessed tractors and then our dairy cows. For me, it was a great interaction between clergy as we talked about modern agriculture.
Food for the farming soul
While certainly a signature interaction with the bishop, for me the highlight came a bit later in the day as Tom Wall, The Dairy Coach, spoke to 200-plus farmers from a six-county area. Wall’s faith-based farming message was food for the soul. As I listened and reflected, Wall reminded me why we continue to place a Christmas image on the December cover of Hoard’s Dairyman each year and recall the Nativity on our Editorial Comment page.
“You are farmers and you have a great story to share,” said Wall, who grew up in nearby Denmark, Wis., home to many dairy farms.
“Farmers are the ultimate stewards of God’s creation. You feed the world and care for His creation,” he went on to say in his motivational style.
“Farmers are valuable,” Wall continued as he shared some Bible passages. “Remember, Jesus started the greatest movement on earth by picking 12 rural man, most of whom were farmers and fishermen, to share his message of salvation,” he said in direct reference to the 12 apostles.
Get it in the right order
“Faith, Family, and Farming. Stay grounded in those and you will do well,” Wall said, noting that the story is the same throughout the world. “Unfortunately, we sometimes get that in the wrong order, Farming, Family, and Faith. Then everything suffers.” he said.
“Family farms have a great deal of tradition and legacy. It’s natural to have tension as well, as there is a great deal of pressure to succeed and live up to expectations laid out by preceding generations,” said Wall.
“As tensions mount, even in my own life, I return to a line in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘. . . Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us . . .’ For me that means, I must forgive others as I want to be forgiven,” reflected Wall. “If we do that with our farm families, employees, and neighbors, we can reduce tension, live better lives, and run better businesses,” the faith-based Wall went on to say.
“To know God, to love God, to serve God — that’s the story of the American dairy farmer,” shared Wall, as he concluded his conversation.
I could not agree more.
The author is the managing editor, and he brings 21 years of industry leadership to our readers overseeing all editorial content and production of the magazine. His degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison combined dairy science and agricultural economics.