Are you one of those persons who loves quotes? I know they drive some people nuts how they congregate on Facebook memes and feel-good annotations.
Yet there is something about a pithy collection of words that can deliver a hammer blow of truth directly to the conscious mind.
I don’t see many farmers’ quotes circulating on social media though I gotta say, this hard-working group of people is a rich source of down-home truths that I’m thrilled to capture on our new Ruralite page.
Like this one: “A good reputation is hard to keep. A bad one is harder to lose,” by Kim Lennox, a sheep farmer for 35 years who recently sold his flock of purebred Canadian Arcotts to his son, Jay Lennox of Ayton.
So true. Stories follow you around forever, especially when you return to the place where you grew up – as many farmers do. I still have people recount high school escapades, some I’m proud of, some I am not, and that was over 30 years ago!
I tell my kids that every person they meet and deal with could one day be their boss, client, customer or family member. Try and treat everyone with respect (so hard sometimes) and then whatever connection you make, it will be a positive one.
That is something Jay Lennox is learning as was revealed when he laid out a quote of his own: “In reality, there are more breeds of sheep farmers than there are sheep breeds,” he said. Bang on! Every farmer is so individual with their likes, dislikes, management style, facilities, opportunities and cash flow. All this variety is a source of story material and wisdom on how to adapt and thrive.
Part of respect is appreciating each other’s differences and how we can learn from them.
I was quite taken with Kim and Jay. Most of my favourite interviews happen around kitchen tables before we pull on our boots and head to the barn. This one was no different. The words coming out of Jay’s mouth were often an echo of a teaching I heard expressed by Kim.
Like father, like son, they say and these two demonstrated that. I’m sure there’s lots of stories and sentiments a journalist doesn’t see in the two hours one spends with a family. That’s okay. We all have stories we reveal, and stories we withhold.
From what I did see, there was a mutual respect as Kim, the father, hands the reins of leadership over to Jay, the son. Meanwhile Jay honours his father by espousing his teachings and articulating his goal of building on his father’s reputation.
In fact, there were many father/son stories in this magazine. All three of the Master Breeder Shield winners featured in this issue were sons (and wives) who had taken over the dairy farm from their fathers (and mothers). Each son credited his father for passing down a good cow herd, giving them a genetically-blessed cornerstone to expand their own prefix on. In honouring their fathers and, in some cases, grandfathers, they show respect.
In my family, there is divorce and brokenness and that is sweating-hard to write. I carry shame and sadness but also relief over it. Not all of it was honourable or respectful as, unfortunately, can happen during divorce.
I think, though, once you’ve hit the bottom and start climbing towards the light, that new vision amplifies the incredible value character is when dealing with people: Being respectful. Honourable. Appreciative.Careful. And kind...oh so kind.
So a shout-out to everyone I interviewed this month and will interview in the future. I’m watching and listening for those “aha” moments as Oprah calls them. I’m collecting your experience and wisdom and common sense; your cleverness and your kindness. Partly for The Rural Voice but also as a studentsof life who hopes to always connect with the seekers, scholars and adventurers.
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
~ Herman Melville