You wake up before the sun rises. You work in the snow, wind, rain and summer heat. You work through holidays, weekdays and weekends. You care for the land, the livestock and your family – but don’t forget to take care of yourself.
While I may not farm full time, I feel your pain. You watch market prices fluctuate wildly from day to day wondering if the hard work you put in will result in any money leftover after paying the bills. You wonder if your farm can endure another day, week, month or year of tough times.
In case you haven’t heard it recently, thank you. Thank you for your hard work, your perseverance, your commitment to quality, your dedication to caring for the land and your livestock and most importantly, thank you for putting food on our dinner tables.
While I may not be a farmer, my family and friends rely on this lifestyle to make a living and I am acutely aware of the challenges.
I know you’re experiencing distress from being asked to dispose of good quality milk.
I know you’re anxious to check the markets each day.
I know you’re wondering what the next day, week and month will bring.
You were thrown a curve ball as our society deals with challenges from COVID-19 and it has sent shockwaves through our agricultural industry, which we thought was recovering from a rough stretch.
Maybe you have already, or one day will, experience chronic stress, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, depression, anxiety or thoughts of suicide.
What you need to know is that you’re not alone and there are people who want to help.
As farm kids and farmers, we grew up and live in a culture where we don’t frequently talk about our feelings and frustrations. We often shove those feelings to the back burner and pull our bootstraps up a little higher and keep moving forward.
Now more than ever, it is essential to acknowledge that even the toughest of farmers have feelings and sometimes feelings of hopelessness and helplessness become too much to bear.
If you, or someone you know, can relate to this, please consider the following:
- Re-engage with a hobby, take a walk or read a book.
- Talk to a trusted family member or friend, you need to let someone know you’re struggling. People want to help, don’t be afraid.
- Reduce or eliminate drug or alcohol use.
- Reach out to the Wisconsin Farm Center for free mental health counseling vouchers.
- If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Never underestimate how much you matter, but also never sell yourself short. You are not defined by the farm. There is life outside of the farm and it can help to separate yourself from the stress you face each day.
Thank you for your hard work.
Thank you for your persistence.
Thank you for taking care of yourself.
Thank you for putting food on my dinner table.