Farmer family standing in their wheat field at sunset

Five things we can learn from farmers during COVID-19

Kristen Johnson Latest Blog Posts, Thought Leadership

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It’s a strange time: COVID-19 has caused massive disruption in the world and in everyone’s lives. Schools are out of session, businesses have closed or adapted, and many of us find ourselves at home indefinitely.

There’s a lot we can learn from farm life and farmers right now. Many of our team members grew up on a farm themselves, and all have spent time with farmers through their work at Conservis.

We’re going to make it through this. These five things, which are hallmarks of farmers and farming communities, will help.

1. Family teamwork and togetherness

On farms, families work together. The home and the farm is the center of life. Children learn from a young age that they can contribute, and spouses work together on the farm as partners in one way or another. Everyone is working toward a common goal of keeping the farm going, and everyone has a part to play.

Heather Sowden, a member of the Product Team at Conservis, grew up on a Minnesota farm. She recalls how harvest was a family affair: “As my sisters and I got old enough to help out, our entire family would be doing their part during harvest. My dad would run trucks, Mom was running the combine with my youngest sister riding along (or home with me), my middle sister was running the grain cart, and I'd be in charge of making all of the meals and driving them out to the field and then helping transfer equipment from one field to another and periodically doing tillage work.”

It isn’t just about getting the work done; it’s also about family togetherness. When families work together, they’re talking, interacting, and generally doing life together. “We were a team and I really felt pride in knowing that I was helping my family. After college and moving to the city, I would look forward to going home on the weekends and even taking some time off to help,” Heather said.

With kids home from school in most places in the U.S. and many people working from home, families are together. Perhaps we can learn from the family farm. We can involve our kids in the daily work of life and home. We can enjoy the time together. While we’re home with our families, we can see this as an opportunity to work alongside one another and connect while we’re doing it, like farm families have been doing for hundreds of years.


2. Sense of community and support for others

Despite the never-ending stream of work in front of them, anyone who knows a farmer knows their willingness to help others. Farmers will drop everything in an instant if a neighbor needs help. Whether it’s cows on the loose or fieldwork that needs to be finished, farmers step up for others at the drop of a hat. Farm communities are also famous for rallying around people dealing with major hardship.

Lisa Hines, Senior Marketing Manager at Conservis, grew up on a farm in South Dakota. She recalls a powerful memory: “My dad was sick with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy,” she said. “During that time, unbeknownst to him, about ten of our neighbors and church members came together and finished his harvest. They brought their own equipment, and some even put finishing my dad’s harvest over finishing their own.”

In a time like this, we can and should be thinking of others. Yes, it’s responsible to take care of our own people and priorities, but like farmers, we can also be willing to drop what we’re doing and meet the needs of others when they present themselves. 

“Many [farmers] have welcomed me into their homes and offices. In almost all cases, somewhere is a framed picture inscribed with words about what it means to farm. The core message is that with faith, family, and community—we can deal with anything.”

-Mike Borman, Senior VP of Product Development at Conservis

3. Resourcefulness

“Waste not, want not” has long been a mantra of the farm, and farmers are some of the most creative and resourceful people out there. They often live frugally, and the mindset of using what you have tends to preside over our all-too-common ways of buying new or more.

Heather Sowden

Heather told us about how she saw this quality in her father. “My dad always took a lot of pride in his equipment, his fields, and our farmstead. He taught my sisters and I the importance of properly caring for and maintaining things,” she said. “He was also very cognizant of taking care of all the different soil types on the farm and took great care to do what is best for each specific field.” 

Whether it’s acts of self-sufficiency like gardening and canning, creative re-purposing of items and materials, or just plain taking care of what they have, farmers use their resources well. We can use this time to do the same, from maintaining or repairing things around the house to taking stock of what we have in our cupboards, pantries, and freezers and making a plan to use it. We could even start a garden (it is spring, after all). 

4. Grit and determination

Grit is defined as “passion and persistence for long-term and meaningful goals.” Farming is a way of life, and farmers show great passion and persistence every day as they work to keep their farms running. Nothing stops farmers from doing their work. They believe in what they’re doing, and they push through to get the job done.

“It’s amazing and so impressive that farmers never slow down,” said Kacee Bohl, a Conservis Regional Manager. She grew up on a farm in Indiana and is thrilled to still be working in agriculture. “I think, or at least I hope, the general consumer is starting to realize how important our farmers are and what they do to provide for us,” she said. “We have what we have because of the grit and determination in our hard-working farmers.”

Dawn Odenthal is the Director of Sales at Conservis. She sees how farmers are showing grit at this very moment. “In talking with farmers in our current times of uncertainty [COVID 19], many of them have mentioned that farming can't take a time out,” she said. “If they don't get this year's ground ready and seed planted, future food levels will be impacted. So they hunker down and put Grandpa in the sprayer where he's isolated for safety, but productive. Truly unmatched dedication.”

This is a time where we can all probably use a little more grit. Getting thrown off our schedules and routines, having to adjust our expectations for daily life—it’s challenging. It’s times like these where we’re forced to recall what matters most in our lives. And when we do, we can continue to work toward those things with persistence and determination, despite the upheaval.

5. Resilience

Will Rogers famously said, "The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer.” Farmers work hard despite constant uncertainty: they deal with the unpredictable weather each day, from what jobs they can do to its impact on their crop production or animals, and uncertain markets control the amount of money they’ll make. Yet they carry on. 

Despite the uncertainty and challenges of farming, many know they'll make it through. Mike Borman, Senior VP of Product Management at Conservis, shared with us how he sees the resilience of farming communities. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of farmers, and many have welcomed me into their homes and offices,” he said. “In almost all cases, somewhere there’s a picture with words about what it means to farm. The core message is that with faith, family, and community—we can deal with anything."

Mike recalled one he saw on a recent visit: Farming requires a strong mind, big heart, and profound patience. He thinks we can learn from that message. “As we all grapple with how to deal with the realities of COVID-19, let us be inspired by those words,” Mike said. “Because in the coming months we’ll need all three in abundance.”

Indeed, there are many challenges and uncertainties right now. Like farmers, we have to remain optimistic, and remember we have the strength to survive difficult times.

We're in this together

Here at Conservis we’re working from home for the foreseeable future. We’re right there with you in navigating this challenging time.

Becky Lauseng

Becky Lauseng, Director of Human Resources at Conservis, shared some positive words. “I’m thankful I have a job, my health, family and friends, food on the table and a roof over my head,” she said. “Maybe the slower pace will be good for the soul in the long term. Maybe important things were getting missed in the hustle and bustle that was life prior to COVID-19.”

Becky said it: we can choose to see this time as an opportunity. For family, for community, for resourcefulness. For practicing persistence and remembering that we can and will bounce back. We hope these 5 values from farm life give you some good perspective.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

Are you a farmer curious about what our farm management software could do for your operation? We’d love to talk with you. 

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