It. Some farms have it. Some don’t. Most farms want it. When a farm has it, everyone can tell, and when one doesn’t, everyone can tell. It is unique. It may be misunderstood. It is hard to find, but it is impossible to miss.
So now you’re probably asking, ‘What is it?’ I don’t know. I really don’t, but here’s what I do know. When I work with a farm family that has it, I know that I’m part of something special. I know it when I see it. It is hard to describe or explain it, but I can feel it and even observe that neighbors around that farm know that this farm has it. Does that mean that some people and farms are just born with it and others never find it? Does that mean that once you have it, you can’t lose it.
So what does a farm that has it look like? Does it own 500 acres or 1,500 acres or 2,500 acres? Are the owners of it a certain age? Does it have a certain color of machinery? Does it have a certain number of children? Does it have a certain type of estate plan? Does it have a certain percentage of growth?
The best explanation I can give for it would be a combination of these qualities:
1.) A deep passion for their family.
2.) An unwavering love for agriculture.
3.) Sincere integrity at all times.
4.) Down-to-earth humility.
5.) Hope, enthusiasm and vision for the future.
6.) Persistency and resolve built through previous struggles.
7.) A genuine perspective on life and purpose.
Farms that have it always have a clear vision. The leaders and people who need to know understand the vision, believe the vision and live the vision. This vision guides them, motivates them and energizes them. They have the personality and charisma to lead those involved in the same direction. They have the ability to communicate the vision and keep it current. Without a current and communicated vision, it could be a farm that once had it and now has lost it. Farms that have it seem to enjoy it. They are inspired both by the challenge and the journey. Farms that have it also recognize how critical one idea could be to change everything. There is innovation and the “we will find a way” mentality.
They are not selfish with what they have. In fact, they want others to have it. They are willing to share experiences and ideas so other farms can have it. They look for it in the right places. Often times farms that don’t have it and know they don’t have it still look in the wrong places to find it. Discovering who has it and who can help you find it is critical.
The final piece is guarding it. Once your farm has it, you want to keep it. That can be challenging to do throughout a farming career and particularly from generation from generation. Does the next generation understand what it is? Do they desire to keep it and expand it? In my life of athletics, church, farming and business, I have found myself saying many times, “They have it. They get it. They understand it.” Then other times I have said, “They don’t get it. They don’t understand it. The just don’t have it.”
Such a simple two letter word that is so hard to define and yet seems to have such a significant value. If your farm has it, you better be doing things to guard it, keep it, and grow it. Never take it for granted because it can be lost. If your farm doesn’t have it and wants it, then you better start making a plan to find it because it can be found.
It’s time for the next appointment. I wonder if they have it, or if they are trying to guard it, or trying to find it. It does not take long to find out.