Editor's note: Phil Durst is the Senior Extension Educator for dairy and beef at the Michigan State University Extension.
Thanksgiving on the farm is often a time of joyous celebration amidst the plenty that your work has enabled you to enjoy. On this special day, while others take a holiday from work, farmers fit in the meal with their families between farm chores that still must get done.
This Thanksgiving will mark 150 years since its establishment as a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln. His proclamation, issued on October 3, 1863 during the civil war, said in part:
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come . . . They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God . . . It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. . .”
As you pause to give thanks this year, think of those individuals on whom you have depended, from whom you have learned and received and among whom you have worked. Take a moment and thank them as well.
Young farmers should think of the hard work, sacrifices, wisdom and guidance that you have benefitted from. Thank your parents, grandparents or other relatives who started the business, continued and grew it. Most importantly, thank them for providing a legacy for you to follow.
Thank those who work with you to help achieve goals that you have set. That includes your spouse, children and employees. Too often we overlook their contributions because we expect it and in the case of employees, pay for it. Yet, thanking each one for his or her effort shows respect for them and is more likely to be rewarded with a greater commitment to their work.
There are others we should remember to thank for their contribution to our success. They include the professionals with whom you do business throughout the year. Some of them have gone the extra mile to provide service, advice or to share their expertise with you. The value of their work often greatly exceeds the price you paid for it. They gave it because they are interested in your success.
Thank the neighbors and peers in business that helped you in a pinch, provided you an example and shared their experience with you. Even competitors have helped us by making us sharper to compete.
Thankfulness is an attitude that should be displayed throughout the year. Thanks should be given regularly. Giving thanks is recognition that we are not self-sufficient. It is recognition that without the help of others, we would not be where we are today.
Farming is a great way of life and business, but it is not one that farmers do alone. As we approach this Thanksgiving, lets be thoughtful about how we have been blessed and benefited. And let’s be humble and diligent to say thanks.