I have a chip on my shoulder. I confess, it’s true.
Those who know me well would laugh at this admission. ‘A chip? You?’ Guilty as charged.
The chip I wear these days rears its ugly head whenever I get the question, ‘so what do you do?’ Luckily, living in the country, away from status and standing, this question isn’t asked often.
‘I’m a grower,’ I say. Or, ‘I run a vegetable stand.’
In my mind, I’m saying loudly and clearly, I am a farmer. But, I’ve learned, those words bring doubt and uneasiness.
‘Really?’ it starts. ‘How many acres do you have?’
Nine, I say. You can see the wheels spinning as the conversation unfolds. Is she a late blooming hippie trying to feed herself and the world? Maybe a rich, bored woman wanting to appear gritty and hip.
The fact that I have livestock (chickens) seems to help my case. But then, inevitably, comes the ‘oh my sister has chickens. What are your chicken’s names?’
The chip grows. I want badly to explain what it means to be a farmer. The pace it demands. The daily experience of both sacrifice and deep connection. There is so much to say but today only one measure counts.
Today, for the third time, I changed an implement on the tractor in a few quiet minutes without drama. I removed the plow, put on the tiller and did it without an easy hitch, a wedge, or banging and cajoling.
The first time it happened I chalked it up to a fluke. The second to a streak of good luck. Today, when I did the very thing I’ve struggled with for years, in no time and without help, it was official. I am a farmer.
It’s interesting how, when you reach a place of accomplishment, one that you’ve earned through commitment and struggle, a deep sense of gratitude and humility arrives. And the chip shrinks.