May 1 2018 11:00 AM

A rural community is a wonderful picture of people supporting one another.

Spring always marks a special occasion in our family as we attend the Volunteer Firefighter’s annual banquet. This event always reminds me of the selfless people across our rural countryside who serve their communities so well.

My insight into this amazing group of people comes from my front row seat, watching my father serve as a volunteer firefighter for my entire life, plus some, for the past 36 years. And now, my husband has volunteered for the last 15 years.

I know this group of people so well as I’ve grown up in our local volunteer department. It was a common occurrence of my childhood to see my dad, barn boots and all, running to the closest vehicle to respond to the fire station just a quarter mile up the road. Leaving my mother and me as “fireman’s helpers” to carry on with the chores on the farm. Our ability to finish the work is our contribution to our community so our spouses can serve, that’s still true today.

I also think each one of us knows someone in this unique group of people. Across rural America when the call for help comes in, those answering are more often than not farmers. Farmer’s geographical location for both work and home often place us in the perfect location for small town volunteer emergency response. Stations manned by farmers who have unique hours and proximity.

But our responsibility to serve comes down to more than our location; the heart of farmers is to aid our communities. We are willing to leave our farms, with hours of work yet to accomplish in the day, because a neighbor has a greater need. It’s a sacrifice we are more then willing to make, as we know that one day we may be the ones with the need.

That heart to serve comes in many forms. It comes in the form of the many who drive our fire trucks and respond to neighbors in times of crisis. It comes in the form of serving on any community board. It comes in the form of being involved with the local school. It comes in the form of being present when volunteers are needed in any way. It is a call farmers are willing to answer.

The heart of the farming community is so strong. I appreciate getting to see those moments when helping one another comes as second nature. To those I am privileged to know who serve our communities so selflessly, thank you! It is this heart that continues to restore my belief that we are capable of facing anything with our community behind us.

Darleen Sichley

The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of two young boys who round out the family run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and transitioned to a robotic milking system in 2017.