I appreciate my hay supplier more than I can say. And for more than the fact that he delivers awesome hay to my barn door when I ask him to. Some wonder why I buy from him at all, since his hay isn't organic, and it's expensive. Very expensive. Why don't I find a different supplier that has organic hay? Or at least cheaper hay? In the end, there is one main reason why I stick with him and appreciate him so much:
He takes me seriously, and treats me like an equal.
You have no earthly idea what that means to me.
Think about it: I am female. I am single. I am 20 years old. And I'm a farmer. How many times does ANYONE see those four facts put together?? So far, I've only seen an extremely tiny handful of others who can claim ownership to those same things
When you take those four things and put them together, you have yourself a recipe for ridicule. I get laughed at a lot when folks hear that I am a farmer. Those who don't laugh often snort and shake their head as if to say, "Girlie, you don't kow NOTHIN'." Or I receive hate mail with hurtful words saying I'm a fake. A single girl who's farming? Get real kid.
The worst though is probably when I'm treated like I don't know what I'm doing. I get brushed aside as folks look for an older person to ask their same question to. Yes, I do actually know the feed conversion rates between your Angus and Hereford steers, thank you very much. And if you want to discuss the differences between feeding 14% protein hay and 18% protein hay to your dairy animal, I can do that too. I'm young, but I'm not stupid.
My hay supplier and I talk about hay, horses, and milk prices. There has never once been a look in his eye, or a tone in his voice that suggested that he feels I am too young to do what I do. There has never been an air of reproof from him for my doing this, because I am a girl. He is dead earnest and treats me like a sane adult (something I don't get often). When we prepare to part, he always has the same piece of wisdom to share with me. He always says, "I started farming when I was 16. It took me 30 years to find this here piece of land and to get to this point that I've reached, but I did it. And I know you'll do it too. Just keep going." I always want to hug him when he says that. Maybe someday I will. ;)
I am an oddball out, in society. I'm young, and I'm a girl. So often I feel like sham. A fake. Like I'll wake up one day and find out that this was all a dream. I get pushed to the edges of the crowd by the older folks, and in those exposed edges, I often feel a creeping feeling of shame. How dare I try to fit in?? What makes me think I can be accepted?
There is a very particular reason that I have a tee shirt that says 'Lunatic Farmer' on it. Because in the end, I truly am just that. I shake off the feelings of shame and accept the fact that some people don't like me for who I am: A crazy, 20 year old girl who calls herself a farmer.I am what I am. If you want to be friends with me, then you had better have the same views as my hay supplier. I get along real well with him...