High Plains dads have a tough balancing act

Dave Bergmeier

For most High Plains residents crop production and animal stewardship have changed rapidly over many years. But there has been one constant, and that is a farmer or rancher has to use his resources to the best of his ability.

As we look at today’s environment we know those challenges are more pronounced than ever—drought, storms, triple digit temperatures, high fuel prices and uncertainty in global markets—and always seem to find their way onto the radar screen and each year always has an unexpected wrinkle.

Through it all it takes a level-headed operator. As we reflect on Father’s Day (June 19) it reminds us of the importance of dads who sit at the head of the table and direct what will need to be accomplished that day and in the weeks ahead. Children who grew up on wheat farms quickly learned a missed detail could bring the day’s harvest to an uncomfortable end.

Lessons learned had to be put to bed because a new day meant new opportunities and having the proper frame of mind was critical. That is the life of being a father who is also a farmer. Farmer fathers have multiple paths to follow. Their vocation of raising crops and tending to livestock includes a calling to raise children in a responsible manner—a role that is also a task of the urban fathers.

Today’s environment for raising children is far different than several generations ago in farm country. The expansion of operations and off-farm opportunities has meant fewer neighbors and farmer fathers may feel more isolated—not only for themselves but their families—and that means taking a step back at times to make sure all aspects of their life are healthy. That ranges from diet to mental health. Physical care and spiritual well-being all need to be at the table for discussion.

Like urban dads, they need to be candid with their doctor about their diet and physical care and ask advice from nutritionists and others in the field who can direct them to resources. A healthy diet pays long-term dividends. A skin cancer check is an example of being proactive—as is a regular physical checkup.

A minister can help with the direction of mental health and spiritual wellbeing. The farmer dads need the support of their family whenever they face unforeseen challenges. “Walking it alone” is a policy that carries great peril. Taking time to enjoy an activity with a child or grandchild is not always for farmer fathers to do in the summertime because of the unending battle of limited time. Yet that investment, even if it might seem small, is highly valued by the child and grandchildren and helps nurture lifetime relationships.

The challenges of farming in today’s environment are many but handling it all starts by taking care of yourself. Father’s Day 2022 is one to appreciate and for all of us to thank our fathers whether they are with us today or looking down upon us. And we’d like to see that continue for many more years.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].