Monday, February 4, 2013

Meaty Monday - "So God made a farmer"

Silence, absolute motionless, focused silence....that is what happened at the Super Bowl party last night when the Dodge Truck commercial came on. The familiar voice of the late Paul Harvey reciting his speech he originally gave at the 1978 Future Farmers of America national convention caught everyone's attention, as did the poignant images of rural America. When the commercial was over, applause and whoops rang out throughout the house (there were people everywhere in the house, stationed at various TVs)--the loudest accolades heard during that game!

Let me share with you how that ad made me feel. But first, watch it yourself...

The first few seconds of quiet, with a photo of a white faced calf standing on a frozen field was absolutely perfect...I see this scene everyday in the winter. I felt the cold and even smelled the cold--for it does have a smell in rural areas. I thought, "What is this? What is happening in THIS Super Bowl ad?"

Then Harvey's voice: "And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, 'I need a caretaker.' So God made a farmer.  God said, 'I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.' So God made a farmer."

This first sentence froze me--I thought, "he's talking about us!"  We don't milk cows, but we do work from dawn until dark nearly every day of the year, taking care of cattle and the land. And my husband has devoted 11½ years to the local school board. He will complete his 12th year this spring and he's been proud to be a part of educating our kids and keeping the community together.

Harvey continued: "  'I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it.' So God made a farmer. 

"God said, 'I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.' I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours.' So God made a farmer."

Well, I've never shod a horse with a hunk of car tire, or made a harness from scraps, but I will tell you that farmers can make absolutely anything out of junk. They have the pile of iron and scraps to prove it...if it is useful on the farm, a farmer can make it! They are the original recyclers.

On the other hand, I have sat up with a newborn baby calf all night, trying to warm it up and feed it colostrum, working until I'm exhausted and wet and cold clear through, only to have all my work go for nothing as it dies while I watch helplessly. I know the heartbreak of losing a calf--not just the work that meant nothing, or the money that I have lost with the death of a calf, but the pain of seeing a life snuffed out and I did my best, but it wasn't good enough.

"God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer. 

God said, 'I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadowlark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.' " 

Harvey's reference to baling hay hit home for me. We spend a lot of our time in the summer working to store the nutritious summer grass as hay to feed our cows in the winter. It isn't an easy job and the better you are at haying, the better your cows will eat in the winter.We work long hours cutting, raking and baling hay and if there is a storm on the horizon, we will race to get everything done before the rain can ruin the dry hay and drop the nutritional quality. One thing that will interrupt that race is the call from a neighbor for help. Farmers and ranchers live in close-knit communities and often pitch in when anyone in the area needs assistance.

The commercial closes with:  " 'Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.' So God made a farmer."

The picture of the little boy holding his cowboy hat over his chest is awesome. There are very few jobs that are passed down through the generations anymore. When someone today says they are a "fifth-generation farmer"--that means something! For more than a hundred years, our farm has been owned by the Blythe family. Raising cattle, farming the land and protecting the future has been ingrained in our family. So when a child says he wants to live this life, it causes my throat to constrict, my eyes to burn and I blink to keep the tears at bay. To pass on this lifestyle--this legacy--is every farmer's dream. Family is top importance to farmers and children are cherished.

So the Dodge Truck people hit a homerun in my mind--or scored a huge touchdown, to further the football references. I hope it resonates beyond the agriculture community. I hope it gave my non-farm friends a tiny taste of why I love farming and ranching. Going even further, during the next year every time the video is viewed, or a viewer shares a badge from the website supporting farmers, Dodge is donating money to the FFA Foundation and supporting local hunger and education programs. So, go see it again. Share it with friends and support the people who feed the world--and are proud to do it! Let's celebrate the "Year of the Farmer" throughout 2013.

Then make my Game Day Fajitas that I shared at the Super Bowl Party!

Deb's Game Day Beef Fajitas
2 Sirloin Steaks  (one of the 29 cuts of beef as lean or leaner than skinless chicken breast)
2 large green peppers
1 large sweet yellow onion
2 Tbsp D.L. Jardine's Fajita seasoning
2 Tbsp olive oil
tortillas (I used the smaller 4" diameter flour tortillas)
shredded cheese, guacamole, sour cream...any other toppings you prefer!


First, I sliced up and sauteed the onions and peppers in the olive oil. I just love this step...the green color is my favorite and I could literally eat the peppers right out of the skillet!

I seasoned the batch with a bit of the fajita seasoning just for fun--and then watched the peppers wilt and brown a touch.

Delicious already!!


Then I unwrapped the sirloins! Remember, if you are looking for lean beef to fit into a heart healthy diet, look for cuts with the word "loin" or "round." This sirloin fit the bill perfectly. As I sliced it up in strips about 3 inches long, it was tender and easy to slice. (I'm notorious for having dull knives--so being tender was important!)

I also cut away the extra fat and gave the bones to Roo the Cowdog and she is now my best friend today.


Once everything was sauteed and seasoned, I put it in a crockpot together and turned it on low to keep warm. When we went to the party, I put the tortillas, cheese and salsa out so everyone could make their own. At the end of the game there was barely one serving left for me to enjoy today at lunch! I love fajitas and this recipe helped keep me out of the higher calorie, less nutritious snacks! I may have had a low-calorie margarita, though! YUM! 

14 comments:

  1. I got emotional reading those words again here! I loved, loved that commercial and am still on a high thinking about all the millions of people who saw it yesterday and what a positive light it gave to farmers. The line about sitting up with the colt all night just to watch it die really got me - like you I've been there done that with a calf, and it something you can't describe unless you've experienced it.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. I think we can all work to celebrate the Year of the Farmer--it is humbling to have been honored in a 2-minute Super Bowl ad!! Wow! Pretty awesome!

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  2. Debbie, I love how personally the ad connected with you. It's chilling to relive with you through your post the moment you realized, "He's talking about us!"

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    1. Thanks, Aimee! I especially loved your post about this ad, as well. I agree that it is an honor to have our message delivered with poignant photography and beautiful prose--no sex, booze or comedy! Yet, it brought huge applause for the farming community. Thank you, Dodge!

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  3. Thank you for posting this, it was so moving to re-read the words. This commercial was definetly the best part of the Super Bowl!

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  4. I LOVE that I even know someone as cool as you! Keep Rocking the dirt baby!

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    1. Mike, you are awesome!! Thanks for the encouragement!! Now, go eat a steak in honor of me...better yet, go to Texas Roadhouse and find the section my daughter is working in and tell her THANKS! :)

      I appreciate your friendship through the (many) years and support!

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  5. I was looking for the words to the commercial that moved me to tears during the Superbowl and happened upon your blog. Bless you for printing them. I wish they were required reading for every school child. As a mixed animal veterinarian in rural Idaho I am blessed to work with farmers and ranchers every day. I share their joy and their sorrow daily while trying to educate the "city folk" who come in to the clinic with their lap dogs. Anyone who has never felt close to God or felt they had no higher purpose should feed cows on a frozen winter morning with their breath steaming around you, or pull a calf and then watch natures plan as the cow cleans him off. God did need caretakers - they're just a little hard to see from the road. (apologies to Baxter Black).

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    1. I'm so glad you did happen across me, Doc! I appreciate everything you do for us ranchers! I know that I work very closely with our local vet. I just scheduled him to come bangs vaccinate 220 heifers and pelvic measure next week! He knows our cattle, literally inside and out! I know you are like him and I thank you for coming out in the middle of an ice storm to help me pull a calf, or on a Sunday afternoon for a broken legged heifer, or for responding immediately when I realize that I need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health papers) to ship cattle to another state at the last minute!

      We are blessed to have caring, knowledgeable vets who care about animals as much as we ranchers do! Thanks for what you do!!

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  6. You just shared the very vision I had in my mind, when I watched the commercial. Cried like a baby! I thought about each and every one of ya'. And I wondered... " Do they all have enough kitchen towels for passing around? "

    No I did not! j/k But I DID hope there was plenty of kleenex or toilet paper!

    We may be tiny. And it may only be me and my husband. But the work is no different than kids... " If you're gonna have 3, you may as well have a couple dozen! " --- says the washing machine.

    And either way - the work is enough to comprehend - and appreciate 100-fold... the precious value of Farmers!

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    1. Thanks for your awesome comments! Every time I see this video commercial, I feel pride and humility--all at the same time! Wow! Such a great feeling!

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  7. I loved how the commercial made you try so hard to determine the purpose of the commercial up to the last second. Way to engage the audience! I loved it and appreciated it...and related to it.

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    1. I loved that too! I thought maybe it was a Farm Bureau ad, then a truck ad, then I wasn't sure...didn't see many trucks in it! Then it turned out to be a truck ad and I really really REALLY loved it because it was more about promoting their customer than their product. Really genius marketing!

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