Farmer Diary: Week off for fair exposes fake farmer in me

Farm Forum

Editor’s note: American News 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.

I had to laugh when I recently heard a farmer say: “We went all farmer on it and …”

He was talking about doing something on the cheap, getting a good deal and making do with less. Instead of throwing cash at a problem, using an often wacky solution that costs nothing.

I had heard the term decades ago, but it made me smile when I heard it again. It also made me think about the farm quotes, terminology, phrases and generally words of wisdom I have heard this summer:

• Life is simpler when you farm around the big rock staring at you in the middle of the field.

• Please don’t judge me by my relatives.

• If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

• You can make a small fortune in farming, if you started with a large one.

• John, you should be covered by disaster insurance.

• Farming is a precise science using the latest technology all based on hope.

• That did as much good as closing the barn door after your horse escaped.

• That rain was a frog drowner.

• Cheap labor like you are providing is going to ruin me.

• Those bales aren’t going to pick themselves.

• The good thing about rocks is that you only have to pick them once.

• I have given this a lot of thought, but after seeing what you’ve done, you obviously haven’t.

• Well, there is always duct tape.

• Running out of diesel in the middle of the field is not a good thing.

• They have a lot of nooses in their family tree.

• He is all hat and no cattle.

• You stupid ——-!

• “You are doing a twine job” (said to a fellow farmer cutting off twine that was twisted up in the blades of a manure spreader).

Time off to reflect

This past week was a strange one, as I took the week off for the Brown County Fair. Days and weeks off for real farmers are far and few between.

And even when they may be taking time off hundreds of miles away, farmers’ thoughts rarely drift far from the farm. Even though I am a fake farmer, I found myself thinking about the farm I was away from this past week and the things I would do on it when I return this week.

Especially after running into many kind farmers (and nonfarmers) at the fair and almost everywhere I went this summer. This series of stories has generated a lot of conversations, comments and laughter my way all summer long all over this region.

But my biggest compliment thus far came at last week’s fair when a friend was introducing me to an obvious farmer. The farmer said, “I know who John is. He is the farmer who writes for the newspaper.”


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