The unity of unwritten rules

Whether the field is for work or play, crops or feed, square-shaped, or a diamond; there will always be unwritten rules that unify us.

On the baseball field, inside the chalk, those rules are about respecting the game and opposing players. Make a spectacular play look routine, like you have done it 100 times before. Be humble when you hit it out of the park. And my favorite: Never cheat the game of effort or passion. It will always pay you back. These rules set a standard that make us people before players and is why, as an agriculture community, our connection to common good will always be what makes our set of rules unlike any other industry.

Sure, as agricultural producers, we are competitive with ourselves, neighbors and commerce, but humility and acts of service are the unwritten rules we call rural values. When we have high yields or a record selling bull, we remain humble and know that each fence has two sides. We have been on both. Recently I visited with a grower about the need to invest in equipment. He could not do it alone, but with the help from a neighbor, they could do it together. Then, a couple days later, a cattle producer shared about how he often trades help during branding and weaning time.

These rural values pay us back when we least expect—even sometimes generations down the line. I will never forget a story about my grandpa. As you have undoubtedly experienced, combines can have a mind of their own and can be temperamental. When a neighbor needed help, my grandfather was there. Their wheat was ready and as my dad says, “when it’s right, you gotta go get it quick.” My grandpa took to their field like it was his own. Never asked and never expected anything in return. He was their hero and saved their crop they worked so hard to sow. This neighbor and his family called me personally a handful of years ago and shared this story and countless others. He made a lasting impression, and they wanted our family to farm their ground.

It is beyond random acts of kindness. It is life. When cows are out, you help put them in or if they get mixed, you sort them. That’s it. No hesitation. You rely on our common connection. It is an unwritten rule. A rural rule that unites us. You see it every day through your pickup window when checking fields and cattle. The steering wheel finger wave from the fellow farmer and rancher doing the same thing you are. They have your back and you have theirs.

It may be a simple sign, but it is one that High Plains Journal takes seriously. A wise colleague once told me, “Keep the farmer and rancher’s best interests front of mind, no matter what business decisions come about, and you will always find yourself in a good spot.” This is our unwritten rule.

Zac Stuckey can be reached at 620-227-1833 or [email protected].