Oct. 20 2021 08:01 AM

I am a farmer but not only a farmer.

If you asked me what I am, I’d say, “I’m a farmer.” But farming isn’t just what I am; it’s become who I am. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. That statement comes with a world of pride — I am proud to be part of the less than 2% who feeds the world. I am humbled to have a job that I am so passionate about that I have actually shed tears over how much I love it. Most people don’t have that, but I do.

Lately, I’ve been starting to worry that we’ve forgotten that farming isn’t all that we are. It’s hard to believe that when the concept of “24/7” doesn’t even cover what we do. I wake up in the middle of the night and leave notes on my phone like, “temp Lyra, Wed. a.m.” or “order dry cow feed for Tuesday.” And when I say middle of the night, I actually mean 4 a.m. — two hours after I went to sleep and two hours before I’ll wake up and do it all again. If farming is all I do, is it truly all I am?

The easy answer would be yes. As a millennial, I’ve watched my baby boomer parents prove that you can have a good life when farming is everything you are. My dad has literally said the phrase, “I want to die farming.” Is he exhausted? Yes. Is he often frustrated beyond reason? Yes. Does he regret his life decisions? No. He’s raised a family, grown and managed a successful, award-winning business, and earned a reputation that some only dream of. If farming is all that I am, I know it could be a good life.

If farming is all I do, is it truly all I am? Lately, I think the answer might be no. I love this farm, you know I do, but it’s not all that I am. I’m also a little crazy. I love to sing and would join a choir tomorrow if I knew of one that would have me. Someday, I hope to be talented enough to just wander around our county fair and create elaborate balloon animals for random kids that walk by. I want to travel. Not as much as I used to, but there are things I want to see. I want to meet people. I want to make people laugh. I want to walk into a room and inspire people to smile just because I’m there and they know we’re going to have fun.

Yeah, I am a farmer. It’s one of my favorite things to be. But also, I am so, so much more.

Jessica Peters

The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.