Farmer Diary: Caring attitudes prevail among farmers

Farm Forum

Editor’s note: Farm Forum contributor John Papendick is spending his summer helping on the family farm in Faulk County. He is writing about his adventures in a series of columns.

It is nice to see some of the old ways still being cultivated on the farm.

Last week, I talked about all the changes I’ve experienced on the farm from when I first experienced rural life 50-some years ago until now. But I still see things that have not changed:

• Whether on a tractor, skid steer, payloader or whatever, there is always plenty of time to think on the farm.

You think about what you are doing, how your life is going, fun stuff and sad stuff. You think about what you might do on the farm for the rest of the morning, that afternoon and the week ahead. You think about food, water and how nice it might feel to join those cows in a stock dam on a hot day.

Plus, you think about your neighbor that you see across the road working in his or her field. You wonder what they are doing and what they are thinking about.

• Many farmers still have a pair of pliers — perhaps still the MVP of farm tools — attached to their hip. The change, of course, is that a cellphone is attached to their other hip.

• City office buildings have break rooms, water coolers and a Keurig to gather around to catch up on the latest hot topics. It is great to see farmers still chatting it up in two pickups along the road or in the field; one in a tractor and the other on the ladder leading up to the cab; or standing on opposite sides of a fence.

While the farm talk among neighbors still continues these days, they also may be doing some of that talking while sitting on their four-wheelers. And one of the main subject lines of all of that talk hasn’t changed as well: Mother Nature and rain, or the lack thereof.

• A jug of cold ice water can be a farmer’s best friend. It is a tradition that has not wavered over the years.

• The beauty of the land, wildlife and wild cloud formations always has been a cornerstone of farm life.

Talk about a fringe benefit like no other.

• Most farmers continue to lend a helping hand, asked for or not. I see farmers on a daily basis who will go out of their way to help someone.

Farmers are no different than any other segment of our population, as there are those who do not have that caring attitude. They are in it for themselves, and just because you help them, don’t expect them to return the favor.

But those kind of farmers seem to be few and far between. All the farmers and the businesspeople who help fulfill their needs I have been around this summer are quick to say, “Can I help?”

In most cases, they jump right in without asking the question.

It has been great to be around such a group of caring people. They make you feel good about your surroundings, fellow humans and life.

Don’t let them fool you.

These pickup-driving men and women are not always driving around at slow speeds to check their property, the progress their crops or their cows.

They also are hoping to run into someone who needs their help.

Longtime South Dakota journalist John Papendick is a freelance writer, public speaker and seeker of new life experiences. Email