When I Grow Up

AGKJ_135thMamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don’t let ’em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make ’em be doctors and lawyers and such
(Ed Bruce, 1975)

When I was growing up if you asked an elementary school-aged kid what they wanted to be when they grew up, Cowboy was pretty high on the list, at least for boys. Farmer, Doctor or Lawyer? Not so much.

I grew up on a farm so I was exposed to it every day. We rode along with our dads when they checked the fields and at a fairly early age would drive the tractors and trucks putting out cabbage crates or apple boxes ahead of the picking crew or picking up bales of hay or boxes of harvested fruit. As a teenager I didn’t love working but, as my dad explained to me at the time. “You don’t have to work on the farm, but you have to work somewhere.” Given the alternatives, the farm wasn’t so bad and by the time I went to college I had decided that coming back to the family farm was what I wanted to do with my life.

“So where will the next generation of farmers come from?” is a question I find myself asking myself more and more as I approach my 60th birthday. Times are different and even the next generation of Bishop family members didn’t have quite the same exposure to the farm side of the business that my generation did.

I think farming gets a bad rap because a lot of the “entry level” jobs are not glamorous and involve being outdoors in all kinds of weather, but once you get past that, it can be a pretty good career choice. Farmers all over the country are looking for that next generation of farm managers, so there is pretty good upward mobility too. (I am talking about production agriculture. Farms with sustainable business models and the scale of operation to be successful.)

So… Mamas, maybe the time is right to let your babies grow up to be farmers.