July 9 2012 07:09 AM

Farmers drop everything to help another farmer, but what about our nonfarming neighbors?

I spent the past week at my family's dairy farm in southwest Minnesota. One evening, while helping my dad with a few chores after milking, we felt a few drops of rain. We hoped the sprinkles would turn into the rainfall we needed. However, my dad quickly thought of a neighbor who planned to finish round baling a road ditch that evening. My dad called him offering to help before the rain. This isn't uncommon for a farmer to stop what he or she is doing to help a neighboring farmer.

I was reminded of this several times as we prepared for a countywide Breakfast on the Farm hosted at our dairy on Saturday, July 7th. Our nutritionist called offering to help any way he could to prepare for the event and several other neighbors offered to assist in various ways. When our main feeder-wagon tractor broke down on Friday morning, another neighbor offered to let us borrow his tractor.

That's just the way it works with farmers. When our cows get out, our dairy farming neighbors from across the road are the first ones to help get them back in, and my family does the same for them. With the number of farms in our country continually dwindling, farmers must work together more than ever, but what about our nonfarming neighbors?

My family's farm is located between many small communities in our county and over 300 people from the area stopped by Saturday morning to enjoy breakfast and experience a morning on a dairy farm. Many people commented, "I drive by here everyday, and I have always wondered what goes on here." I am sure many children went home with memories of their first time petting a calf or seeing a cow milked. Many adults went home with a new appreciation for how their dairy products are produced.

Just as you may drop everything you are doing to help a neighboring farmer, try to make an extra effort to show appreciation to your nonfarming neighbors. Often without realizing, they are helping us everyday by buying and supporting our products. It is important to show appreciation and build a trusting relationship with everyone in our community.

Even though our "town" neighbors may not be able to offer us a tractor when ours breaks down, keep in mind that they will remember the farmer who gave them a farm tour or the farmer who answered a question at the county fair. If they have a positive experience, they will share what they learned with friends and stand up for you if others put you down.