How can farming be so challenging,
yet so stimulating and fun?
Called to a role that always has more to discover, and to enjoy.

By Gerald Poechman

editor's NOTE

Gerald Poechman

The Christian Farming Federation of Ontario (CFFO), Guelph, Ontario, produces a weekly radio commentary which we occasionally carry under the column title “Letters from Ontario.” John Clement, the group’s general manager, writes most often, with others from the group taking their turns. With the group’s permission, we continue use of the CFFO columns as they seem useful for our international readership.

Posted March 15, 2007: Sometimes the questions we ask ourselves can be more revealing than the answers themselves. Like me, you might occasionally find yourself asking some soul-searching questions about your motivation for being a farmer.

I'll try to explain, somewhat awkwardly, my personal reasons for making this choice. It has to do with the unique characteristics of being self-employed, in a family and community environment while always being exposed to the natural elements. Weather has a funny way of influencing our conversations, our family activities and our work plans. Neigbours have a peculiar way of interrupting us on the busiest of days, wasting some small-talk time and leaving us feeling enriched and grateful for the exchange.

My main reason for choosing farming, however, is because I believe that I have been “called” to this profession. In responding to the call, I've become engrossed in the huge diversity and broadness that farming encompasses—everything from soil organisms to animal behavior to customer health and vitality.

A calling is the notion that a higher authority or knowledge has a plan for us. This is a tough concept in a world of intellectual knowledge, personal freedom and market rewards. For me, a close look at the beauty of the plan for all life reveals the intricacies, the interdependence, the complexity of the whole natural food chain. It leaves me in full appreciation of the blessing to be charged with the duty—and excited by the responsibility—to be a co-creator in these highly refined processes and balances.

Science has discovered so much knowledge about creation and yet we have hardly scratched the surface as to the magnitude and relationship of the organisms in the soil. We probably know more about outer space than we do about what lies beneath the soil surface. Many scientists will tell you that the greater their discoveries in our creation, the more they feel they have yet to discover!

A farmer has a privileged role to play, that of scientist, designer, operator and benefactor in a world so complex and beautiful that no man or computer can fathom its extent. I ask myself, "Why is farming so challenging, yet so stimulating and fun?" I think it’s because I responded to a calling to be a contributor in the circle of life.

How could I have been blessed to be called to a vocation for which I will never be fit? For me, this is the mystery that keeps life exciting and the work of creation (farming) so dynamic and surprising.

You know, it's a lot like parenting. We can never be completely prepared; no amount of learning will adequately prepare us for the next turn in events or the challenges we must face. As long as we are willing to learn as we go, we will evolve with life and continue to be surprised at the unexpected times of learning, fulfillment and joy.

I'm totally convinced that—for me—only a vocation like family farming can deliver all this and much, much more.