I had to take one of my girls in for some minor toe surgery yesterday. I was sitting in the office, chatting with the podiatrist when I happened to glance down at my hands. The fingernails were grubby all around and the nails themselves broken off. I always think I am going to wear my gloves when I work outside but I never do. I think I will be just picking a couple of beans for dinner when I end up pulling all the weeds in the beet patch. The nest thing I know I am up to my wrists in dirt. Real farmer’s don’t get manicures.

At my last doctor’s appointment, my physician asked me if I got any exercise, especially weight bearing. Have you ever lifted a full canning kettle. I will have to weigh one some day. Then there’s the pig food and the buckets of compost. I tote and carry all day. Cardio? Bruce and I spent the morning pulling off the potato tops and stuffing them into black plastic bags. It took 3 hours with a couple of breaks for running back and forth to the house to refill the water jug. I was up and down the cellar stair 6 times, back and forth to the pigs and the garden and up and down the house stairs with laundry. Real farmers don’t join gyms.

My doc also had questions about my diet. She hoped I was watching my consumption of eggs, bacon and cheese and bread. Sure. I raise pigs, have great, local free range eggs, make my own cheese from local whole milk and bake bread. Of course I don’t eat any of that. I eat nothing but lettuce and tomatoes. Oh wait a minute. I DON’T HAVE ANY TOMATOES. I guess that means I will have to eat the pork. Real farmers love great food.

My pants all have dirt stains on the knees. I know the value of a broad brimmed hat. I watch the weather forcast religiously but have no idea what’s going on in the lives of celebrities. My kids know better than to complain over beets for dinner.

I am actually not much of a farmer. I have a small place, less than three acres. I grow a lot but by no means all or even most of what we eat. But, after this week, I am feeling like a farmer in a community of farmers. That we are all interested in preparedness and none to optimistic about the economic future of our country is often lost in the forest of our love for our land and our food. We have commiserated in our misery, given freely of support and information. I have mourned with you. I have said this often. The reason I don’t keep my preparedness private is that I could not eat while my neighbors were hungry. If there is that silver lining to dark cloud of blight it is this. We are in this together. Our extra produce gets sent to our food share. If one of use has just put up apple sauce, there will be sauce to share as well as store. There are plans to get to a local orchard this weekend to pick peaches. I hope we will share in the canning of those peaches and in the joy of the cobbler this winter. We are strong. We are invincible. We are together. We are farmers.

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