I’m a believer in vocation, the idea that all work has purpose, and we can all contribute to a better world through our daily work. There’s no job that doesn’t have an impact on somebody else’s life or livelihood, so all work is important. You may be able to tell that in a past life I was an Admission Counselor at my alma mater, Augustana University, so my feelings on work and purpose are well rehearsed, going back to my years counseling would-be college students.
Afterall, even on our farm, we wouldn’t do very well growing turkeys if someone hadn’t made our woven wire fencing, or if we didn’t have a garbage hauler to retrieve our cardboard recycling each week. Or, if we didn’t have the grain farmer that grows corn for our feed. Or, for that matter, the mechanic that services that farmer’s combine. You get the idea. It takes us all.
Still, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the special responsibility of farmers that care for animals. In our work, you can’t turn off the animals when you leave for the day, so it is a 24-7 occupation, even on federal holidays. Recently, a friend jokingly asked me, “when’s the last time the turkeys took a holiday?” It struck me that someone has been showing up on this farm every single day for years – decades, actually – to care for our turkeys, going back long before I was born.
There are few folks I admire more than dairy farmers, literally planning their lives around their milking schedule, all to care for their herd and provide my daily glass of milk. Our turkeys may not be quite as time sensitive, but it doesn’t mean we can ignore them either. In our case, we are extremely fortunate to have a great team here, so our family doesn’t do it alone, but we’re all dialed in to the subtle changes that can require our immediate help, whether day or night. Has the temperature changed? Do we need to close doors when it cools off suddenly? Do we need to spray our big birds on the hot summer afternoon? Did that feed show up on time? Do we need to venture out in that middle-of-the-night storm to make sure the power stayed on in our brooder barn?
It’s a special responsibility, and a charge we take seriously. In the spirit of vocation, thanks for being a part of a system that values the farmers behind our food.