|Just for the record, neither of these guys are my dad (nor do they look like him, but this is certainly a picture of two farmers chatting it up)|
As a child, it was always a big ordeal to go out somewhere — anywhere — with my dad. In the area I grew up in, he knows everyone.
He was the township trustee for most of my childhood, so he met annually with all the farmers and landowners to discuss their assessments. He helped establish the township’s volunteer fire department, and he’s a farmer.
His parents are from the area and are well known, too. They’re a popular bunch, and needless to say, he knows a lot of people.
Anytime we went anywhere with dad – the gas station, church, the local lunch hot spots – we’d see at least one person we know. And, in true farmer fashion, he’d strike up a conversation that started with the weather and ended seemingly hours later after covering countless topics.
I learned it early — my dad’s a talker.
As a kid, I’d often tune out and my mind would wander while he was deep in conversation with people he knew. I had no idea at the time that I was in training to become a talker just like him, and I certainly never would’ve guessed I’d be talking about agriculture for a living.
This career has turned me into the talker I’ve been training to become my entire life. After watching my dad for nearly 30 years and interviewing farmers for five, I think I could interview a wall and get some answers.
It happens to me all the time anymore – I strike up conversations with complete strangers about topics I don’t really care about just because I find myself needing to know more of the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of whatever subject they are talking about.
Cashiers, fast food employees, store salespeople, folks at church, vendors at farm shows — name a person; no one is safe. I’m ready to talk them up.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not complaining about this new talent I continue to hone. I love learning about people and hearing about the lessons they’ve learned. I have met so many people through AgriNews interviews and events that I am rich with stories and memories, as well as news.
There are so many tidbits and neat stories about the people that fill the pages of AgriNews that will never make it to print, it astounds me. Those small pieces fall by the wayside because they aren’t pertinent to the story at hand, but they are bits of info that I treasure the most.
I think back to those memories that farmers have shared with me and it makes me feel trusted, like I am relatable to the people I interview.
That’s what is so great about the folks in the agriculture industry, they are, for the most part, willing to share far more than what I need for AgriNews. And that just feeds my need to be a talker.
During one adventure, I interviewed a cattle farmer. He and his operation were special in themselves, but the story about his wife’s recent battle with cancer and how difficult it was for the farmer to help her heal and not emotionally drain himself has stuck with me for years. His devotion to his wife has been in my mind ever since.
What about the family whose daughter was at Purdue studying in ag communication? That was a fun one because she and I could compare notes, since that was the program from which I graduated.
There was another farmer I visited to talk livestock, and we spent time talking about his new shop and all the challenges he faced in getting it built, but how blessed he felt to be able to complete the project.
There are a lot of conversations about faith. I’m not sure if that’s politically correct or not, but farmers are God-fearing people, and they are proud of it. They often willingly share their stories of how their faith has been tested through weather, health, accidents or markets.
Yes, with the genes my dad passed on to me, and the experiences I’ve had through this career, I’ve become a talker.
I didn’t really notice it until I was at church recently and, after the service was dismissed, my husband, parents and I were heading to our cars. I was stopped by a local farmer/family friend/AgriNews subscriber and we started talking.
Off to the side of the conversation, I heard my husband mention to my mom that “this was going to take forever,” motioning to me chatting it up. She said that was OK because dad was lost in a conversation talking to someone else.
Yup, I’m a talker. I got it honest.
I’m proud of it. I’ve earned it.
|This is me (on the left) talking with Zafer, a hardwoods buyer who traveled to Indiana last summer|