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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Heart of Ag: Around the Dining Room Table

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Gathered around the table is where the best memories are made.

Families come together. Nourishing food is passed around. Heads bow in prayer. Laughter and stories are shared. Serious discussions are had. A pause to reflect. A moment to regroup. A meal made with love, received by those you love most.

As I think about some of my favorite moments in life, chances are it was spent at the table sharing a meal with someone I cherish.

As a kid, meals were squeezed in between the business of running the family farm. It didn’t matter how busy we were, somehow my mom managed to put together a hot meal for us to refuel before we got back to work, and she always made it feel special, even in the busy seasons. 

The table was always set. Dessert always followed a meal. And she was always, always ready for unexpected guests to pop in – they never went hungry – because that’s how she loved.

Perhaps she learned it from her mother and grandmother. They had a huge garden and harvested as much as possible each year. Much love and work was put into planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, prepping, canning and storing away for those cold winter days.

Whether it was a hot crockpot of chili or beef stew waiting for us after a long morning of pushing snow and feeding cattle in a blizzard or a cold glass of lemonade and ham and cheese sandwiches served on the tailgate of the pickup out in the hay field, I realize it wasn’t the food that makes those moments stick out in my memory, it was who I shared the meal with.

Life in production agriculture isn’t always easy, but when you have each other, you have it all.

I recently gathered around the table for a meal shared with 500 beautiful women at the Farmer’s Cooperative Ladies Night in Crete, Neb. I was invited to speak on the joys and challenges of agriculture and the important role women play in it all. 

A sold-out event and a great crowd, I was honored to share my message with these women. 

It was an evening of celebration, laughter and tears and of reminding each other we aren’t alone in this journey. We have each other. We have community. We have our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

And while working the land and tending to the livestock is so fundamentally important and many of these women have off-farm jobs, as well, what society tends to forget and overlook is the most important role women play is loving and nurturing our families.

Yet, in the hustle and bustle of life, we have abandoned some of these simple truths. Our kids don’t need fancy vacations or the latest gadget. What they need is a mom and a dad who love them, who spend time with them, who instill in them strong values and who prepare them for the future.

I was struck by all of this as I presented my message to these women. 

While celebrating what makes the heart of rural America great, I was inspired by a lady in the audience who had four children, 13 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren. I’m quite certain the days were long at times in those early days, but as they say, the years are so very short. 

As she spoke of her family, you could just instantly see the pride, joy and contentment. She had done her job well, and no matter where life takes her, it’s the family around her who makes life worthwhile.

Are young people hearing this message? Do they truly know the value of having family and community to wrap around and support them all the days of their lives? 

As I wrapped up my speech that night, I acknowledged America faces some mountainous challenges. However, the solutions lie with us, right at home in the heart of rural America.

When we gather around the table, goodness abounds. But we must prioritize it. We must prioritize family. We must extend the invite to our neighbor and love them well. And if we support those values and ideals, small rural towns will thrive. 

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