When anyone thinks of farmers, words such as tough, capable, hard working, inventive, independent, disciplined, efficient, come to mind.
However I don’t think anyone would stick them with the label of sentimental, at least not right off the bat and without knowing some.
Livestock farmers generally have a favourite animal in their herd. Usually it is an animal which has stood at the top of production, has had very few problems for them to deal with and responds to the occasional pet or stroke with affection. This is the animal which, when her productive life is over, will not be loaded in a trucker’s trailer and sent to the auction like the rest. Instead she will meet her fate on the farm and be buried in the back forty.
Others will pick out a favourite barn cat as she is always ready to rub up against their boot in a friendly manner while purring. Or perhaps it is a favourite dog always greeting him with a wagging tail and a stick.
Besides always having a favourite cow in the barn, my husband has a penchant for kittens which the mother cat doesn’t want so carries them off and dumps them somewhere. Usually only a week or two old, when the kids were young, someone would be told to “Take it to your mother. She will know what to do.” Now he just brings it to the house with a “Here!” as he goes back out. Another house cat arrives!
Farmers will have their favourite tractor too. It rides right, is comfortable to drive and doesn’t give major problems. All the controls are in just the right place for them and the gearing is what they like. When there is a job to be done it is their tractor of choice.
Last month we purchased another used tractor with the express intention of using it to pull a rock wagon so we can clear out some fence lines here and at the other farm. It’ s big and some 40-years-old. It will do the job.
When the truck driver arrived at the dealer’s to float it home for us, the mechanic there insisted on loading the tractor on the float. His last drive on the old girl, he said. He had driven it many times when he had worked on the farm of the original owner.
When the truck driver arrived here, he insisted on driving the tractor off the float. Why? Because he had worked for the same owner clearing snow with this same tractor. Another one who wanted a final drive on the tractor.
Are farmers sentimental? You bet they are! You just have to look.
Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.