Corn harvest

(Journal photo by Lacey Newlin.)

This week I drove to Weskan, Kansas, to interview a farmer about the technologies he is utilizing on his operation. We got to the photography part of my visit, usually a form or torture for the subjects I interview, but this man was happy to oblige my need for images to illustrate the article. However, he also said something I have heard over and over again from farmers and ranchers and it stayed in my thoughts throughout the five and a half hour trip home.

This particular farmer was about a quarter of the way through corn harvest and one of the combines had broken down, slowing their progress. He said it had been a busy morning, and I could tell from his words he was stressed. After jumping in his farm truck and driving down a dusty country road, he apologized for the state of his truck and said he wished he’d cleaned up a bit and put on a nice shirt since he was going to be in some photos.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a subject say something like this, and my answer is always the same: please don’t change. Authenticity is the only requirement for my articles and farmers and ranchers have it in spades. A five o’clock shadow or sweat-soaked pharmaceutical cap only reinforces the realism of the stories we are privileged to highlight as ag journalists and I welcome them with open arms.

The people who labor in the agriculture industry are the most genuine, honest and hard-working people who walk this Earth and we appreciate them right down to their oil-stained Wranglers and worn-out Carhartt jackets. The readers of High Plains Journal don’t expect starched shirts and ostrich boots. They expect calloused handshakes, family values and an undying love for feeding the world, one windrow or bottle calf at a time. You are our lifeblood, so please, don’t ever change.

Lacey Newlin can be reached at 580-748-1892 or lnewlin@hpj.com.

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