“I Meant Your Job That You Get Paid At.”

Greetings from Minnesota. It’s about 25 degrees, and I am a-okay with that!

So the other day, I was at my chiropractor. If you regularly read, you know I was in an accident before Christmas, and I’m still dealing with some residual neck and back issues. Anyhow, that’s not the point.

I was at my chiropractor’s office getting a massage to help with some of the stiffness when my massage therapist asked me if I had to work over the weekend. She commented that I was exceptionally tight in my back and she hoped I could relax for a few days. I believe I’d previously mentioned to her that I have an office job and my husband and I farm with his family, but I hadn’t shared many specifics.

I told her I worked weekdays at my office job, but I would be working at the farm throughout the weekend. Her response was simply, “Oh, I meant your job that you get paid at.” She just said it in an off-hand way, and I certainly wasn’t offended but I took a few minutes to ponder this response.

Last time I checked, any sort of business has to make a profit if they want to stay in business. Fluctuating prices may mean farms actually lose money some years and make money other years, but whether you own a farm, work for a farm, or are a partner in a farm you need to make enough to support your family just like everyone else. While I see farming as more of a lifestyle than a business or job, it is still a livelihood.

I think it’s easy to romanticize the farm life and think about pretty sunrises, growing plants, and baby animals, but forget that farmers also depend on what they do for their income. I’m not saying farming is all about the money or economics. Farmers, as a general rule, love what we do. (You’ve got to mostly love what you do to get outside on a -20 degree day :-)) But the fact remains that farmers can’t do what we do for free.

This is our job, our lifestyle, our business, our dream - all in one.

I’ve heard some people say they think bigger farms only care about making a profit while smaller farms care more about their animals and crops. I know this generalization isn’t true either. Sometimes staying smaller is the right choice for a farm, but sometimes adding land acres or animals is the right choice so the farmer can afford necessary upgrades, or make it possible for a son or daughter to join the farm full-time. I think each farm’s situation is different and unique – which is one of the really cool things about farming.

Who knows, my massage therapist probably thought I meant we have a hobby farm with just a few animals.  I could have asked her why she felt that farming wasn’t a job you got paid for, but I was kind of in the “massage-zone” and didn’t have the energy to get into a lengthy conversation.  I also don’t feel she delivered the comment in a way that required a response, so I just mused over it.

Running Tales

I’m happy to report that I had a great outdoor run yesterday. I had 4 miles on my schedule and finished 4.23 miles at 9:37 pace – which is one of my faster weekdays runs on the ice and snow in a while. I also had less upper left leg pain, so I’m thinking that whatever was wrong is healing. I certainly hope so! 

I’m hoping to have a great long run this weekend and no more leg pain to worry about. Cross your fingers for me.

Do you feel differently about the quality or safety of your food when you think about the fact that the farmers who grow it need to make a profit from it?

Have you ever had someone ask a question or make a comment about your work that you really pondered?


About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
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14 Responses to “I Meant Your Job That You Get Paid At.”

  1. Heidi Nicole says:

    I’m not too picky about where my food comes from…as long as I can’t see the “cooties” on it. In the summer I am more likely to head to the farmers market, but in the dead of winter I work with what I can get my hands on. Of course, I’ve gotten broccoli from the farmers market and it had little white worms in it…I’m still recovering from that!

    I would be annoyed with her response, honestly. I grew up on a farm where we depended upon “profitability” of the farm for our livelihood. I don’t miss that, but I do pine away for the “hobby farm” ideal.

    • Lisa says:

      Eep- my sister and I had the same experience finding worms in farmer’s mkt broccoli a few summers ago. It reinforces my belief that the responsible use of approved pesticides is an important thing!

  2. i’m not really picky about where my food comes from. i don’t quite know what this says about me but ignorance can be bliss at times. i do frequent farmer’s markets in the summer and try to buy locally but it’s really hard. i tend to let my wallet dictate what i buy at times

    i’m sure that people have said things to me about work that i should get annoyed about but i tend to let things roll off me. i do have a friend who works on a farm and man i totally have respect for that. it’s such hard work!

    • Lisa says:

      This comment makes me think about how lucky we are to have the safest food system in the world. Whatever you buy, it is closely regulated and monitored so I agree that we don’t need to worry/be picky too much. Sure it’s not perfect, but what it?
      My question was probably worded a little wrong because honestly, most people must realize everything they buy (food, clothes, even medical care) is something the farmer or maker or care-giver ( and all the middle men) make their living from. It doesn’t mean all these people are untrustworthy just because they have a financial stake. I do feel like some people would rather believe negative things said about food production (by people who aren’t actually involved in it) instead of what farmers have to say, which drives me a bit batty sometimes.

      It’s neat that your friend works on a farm, and it’s interesting to read other’s take on this!

  3. Brit says:

    In general, I am thankful to live in America where we have some of the highest quality, safest food around. I understand that it isn’t a perfect system, I also understand that many Americans make poor food choices, but I feel so lucky to live in a country where there is enough good quality food for everyone.

    I have a great deal of respect for farmers because although it is a job, it is also, as you touched on, a lifestyle, which means that you are never really “done” working. At my job I can close a project or complete a work item and more or less wash my hands of it. I can go home at the end of the day and most things can, in theory at least, wait until morning. On a farm I feel like there is a much greater sense of urgency. Animals can’t necessarily wait until it is convenient for you.

    I often get comments about how my white collar job is not really work. That kind of makes me crazy. I realize that I’m not getting dirty doing my job or even physically tired doing my job, but I still put in a huge amount of hours at night and on weekends to get my job done and I don’t think that sacrificing my time in that way should be discounted as “not real work”. Last night I spent several hours on the phone with a colleague in Korea while many of the “real workers” were probably home, stress free, watching TV. ::Off of my white collar jobs are jobs too soapbox.::

    • Lisa says:

      This is another great comment. I appreciate that you appreciate farmers 🙂 I also totally understand how frustrating it could be to hear that your job isn’t real work. Sometimes I am more tired after a stressful day at the office (maybe mentally drained is a better word) than I am after a long weekend day at the farm. And it also works the other way when sometimes the farm is more stressful.

      But your point is well taken. I wish people would try to put themselves in the other person’s shoes before making a comment about their life/job/what-have-you. The grass may seem greener for somebody else, but every job and lifestyle has its benefits and its challenges. Thanks Brit!

  4. KrisB says:

    First, I love that your blog always has such thought provoking questions. I often don’t have time to type out a well thought out response but it always gets the wheels turning.

    I’m guilty of rarely giving a second thought to where/who my food products come from. They are so readily available to us here in America that it’s so easy to buy and consume them without thinking about the people who invest so much time and energy into them. Thanks for providing a behind the scenes look into how integrated the farmer’s lives are with their “work”.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks! I totally appreciate that so many of you take the time to respond. I can’t imagine being a busy mom like you either. Amazing how you balance it all.

  5. Cassie says:

    I’m never disappointed when I stop by to read here! Another great post. You have a gift for gently discussing issues many got hot-under the collar over.

    I also find the comment a bit funny because the “job that you get paid at” is probably less physical than your farming lifestyle.

    Motherhood fits this category for me. I only work 8-14 hours a week at the job that I get paid at, but being a homemaker and mother are among my top priorities and are far more tiring, challenging, exhilerating, and fulfilling than any other job I’ve had. Although the pendulum is swinging back towards center a bit, society still tends to downplay the role of a homemaker and stay-at-home.

    • Lisa says:

      Ah, thanks Cassie. I think you’ve got one of the most important jobs in the world. Plus – it takes more patience than just about anything else, and you are building such a great home and example for your sweet little twins. P.S. I am never disappointed when I stop by your blog either!

  6. sweatykid says:

    Thought-provoking post and certainly a muse-worthy comment from the chiropractor. Was she inferring and implying that “your job that you get paid at” is more mentally stressful and tension-causing than farming, hence the neck tightness? (a goofy assumption to make anyway, as you pointed out!) I really wonder what was going on in her thought process… as farm work seems a lot more physically taxing than any typical job one gets paid at these days… doesn’t exactly sound relaxing. 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      I’m still not sure what she was implying! Honestly – I don’t think she really thought much about the comment, so I didn’t really think much of it either. Once I left was when I really started thinking, “gosh that was a weird thing to say.” It was also the massage therapist (and not my actual chiro). Interestingly enough, my chiro grew up on a dairy farm and asks me about it most days.

  7. Bree says:

    Very thought provoking.

    I guess I don’t really have a strict food philosophy. I do agree that we are lucky to live in America with access to food so readliy and that we even have the choice to eat different ways if we want.

    No one has said much about my job. It has a very misplaced reputation of importance/respect 🙂 People tend to think I make way mroe money then I do. My husband on the other hand, is a teacher and people always talk about how easy it is to be a teacher and how little they work. It makes my blood boil because I see how much time outside of school he puts into it. He is doing something almost every week night – correcting tests, quizzes, lesson plans, etc. And he coaches and works in the summers. It seems that everyone had a lazy teacher in school and assumes that they are all that way.

    • Lisa says:

      I could totally echo my response to Brit here, and I think I will 🙂 “I wish people would try to put themselves in the other person’s shoes before making a comment about their life/job/what-have-you. The grass may seem greener for somebody else, but every job and lifestyle has its benefits and its challenges.”

      How are you liking your job? I hope all is well!

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