“The Ground’s Grounding Effect”

This was a difficult and emotional column to write this month.

Who I am and what I am was influenced heavily by life growing up on a farm through age 22. 

The years on the farm taught me, guided me and influenced me.  It “created” the me I am by providing:
· An understanding of work ethic (didn’t always appreciate it)
· a great grasp of the “birds and the bees” (farm kids see “things” early in life)
· knowledge about the environment, animal behavior and influence of mother nature (sometimes friendly, sometimes angry, sometimes simply tolerant)
· insight on farm families (mostly friendly/loving but sometimes angry, sometimes tolerant)
· appreciation of the glory and pitfalls of agriculture (bounty, death, profit, debt, and uncertainty)
· the value of the dollar (100 cents)
· the importance of education that comes in multiple forms (school, church, and life experiences)
· creation of fun and entertainment no matter where you are (as a kid, perspective and creativity dominate)
· loads of stories and material to write this column (life provides the best material)
Change occurs frequently on the farm (seasons change, prices change, livestock and crops change, expenses change, landlords change, expectations change, etc.) and yet the ground (soil) that makes up the farm remains constant. The farm ground itself has a way of remaining life’s grounding center. This “Ground” always had a way of grounding me…reminding me of farm lessons…keeping me more humble and even keel. 
Most people understand that change is constant. The same is true with a farm, obviously. However, there have been times over the years when I felt like I could step back into the past simply by coming “home” to the Farm. 
During my lifetime, Agriculture has changed greatly. I should have expected that the Home Farm would as well. 
A lot has happened in recent months on Dad and Mom’s Gar-Den-Roh Farm… some good and some not so good…
· My Dad has been having some health issues.
· My Mom and Dad celebrated 50 years of marriage
· My uncle passed away in an auto accident in August (Uncle Keith was my dad’s brother, farming and business partner, and so much more…they worked side-by-side for decades)
· Area farmers, friends, neighbors, and the rest of the Community came out in droves for a special Harvest Day for my Uncle and Dad’s farms on October 21…What an incredible gift to our family by hundreds of people from the Fulton County region. Please see Holly Spangler’s two part “My Generation” blog on farmprogress.com regarding the harvest day on the web.

Part 1: One Day: One Thousand Acres 
by Holly Spangler
OCTOBER 22, 2014

Part 2: 'Rural America at Its Best' 
by Holly Spangler
OCTOBER 23, 2014

· My Dad and Mom, after serious soul-searching, recently decided to rent out their farm land for the 2015 growing season…ironically to two brothers from the area.

So does this mean no more Gar-Den-Roh Farm?
The farm ground remains…the buildings remain…farming continues at Gar-Den-Roh Farm but it will certainly be different.  Sometimes, we take things for granted. I am guilty in this case because I took it for granted that a Rohrer would be farming this land forever.  Who knows what the future may bring…A Rohrer grandchild, nephew, or niece may seek a farming opportunity in the future.  Here is what I know…The Farm Ground will still be there as Life’s grounding center.
I feel the need to write a little more about the Community Farm Day held October 21, 2014 for the family of my Uncle and my Dad because it ended up connecting to the Cook County Farm Bureau.  When I heard the Harvest Day was going to occur, I told my wife that I was going to attend but I was concerned that I possess no skills to lend to the harvest assistance for the day.  I indicated that perhaps I could bring those doing the work lunch for the day. 
I was talking to my dad shortly thereafter and told him that I planned to attend.  My dad said that “maybe I could bring others lunch for the day”! Funny Dad…He obviously remembered the lack of farming skills that caused me to be “kicked off” the farm.
I did attend that Harvest Day and I provided very little in terms of labor and skill. I did seek to shake a lot of hands, thank a lot of people and introduce myself frequently.  The people of rural farm country are truly inspiring individuals. It amazes me the way these good, kind hearted people came together to help the Rohrer Family. Scores of farmers and non-farmers alike from throughout the Fulton County Community gave incredible gifts of time, labor, equipment, compassion, energy, friendship, and support to my family. There was plenty of sadness and grief that day over the occasion as we missed my uncle’s presence but there was also great joy and compassion that seem to be equally prevalent that day in celebration of harvest and giving.
I have written previously in this column about the rural “people helping people” phenomenon but I have never been on the receiving end of such a massive, wonderful and powerful gift. This gift touched my Father and Mother deeply and while there is no way to properly repay the gifts or say enough thanks, they attempted to, in part, by placing a “Thank You” ad in a local Fulton County publication. 
A portion of that “Thank You” ad said, “To recognize those involved in the Community Day, we have given a donation to the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation in the name of the people who helped in any way”. Further, my mom wrote, “our donation to the Foundation is in appreciation for this outpouring of help, knowing that the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation supports youth, scholarships, education, field days, etc. which returns great benefits to all farmers!”. 
A sizeable check was sent to the CCFB Foundation in recognition of the amazing kindness of this Fulton County Community. And yes, I shed a tear… Thank you, Farmers and Agriculture.