By Michael Zechman
Midd-West FFA President
MIDDLEGBURG -- When growing up, most kids had a super hero they fantacized about. I for one liked Superman. All his super hero powers he had instantly made me favor him over all the other superheroes’. Then as I grew older I learned more and more about reality and how life worked. That’s when my vision of what a hero really was changed. A hero to me now is somebody when I grow up I have no problem being just like them, or as well as wanting to be like them. The person that came to mind was my Uncle Joe. For those of you who don’t know my uncle let me explain. He is a hard, honest workingman that works hard at whatever he does. Currently he owns and lives on a farm outside of McClure, at the age of 52. The farm my uncle owns is a dairy farm that currently has 67 head of cattle. He has been dairy farming for 28 years on his own, but a total of 42 years since he started at the age of 10. Uncle Joe is my hero, because he taught me the importance of math, reading, science, and even some history. This sounds just like what a student would learn in school huh? Well it is and that’s just what makes him my hero and that’s only one factor.
A couple years back my Uncle Joe had some hard times, which as a farmer he really didn’t have time for. The big two ones that stick out in my mind and the worst are as follows. Okay so one of them was a tire rim explosion and the other a heart surgery. The tire rim exploded as my uncle was simply putting some air back in the tire. Unfortunately the tire was in really bad shape and could not take the pressure and it exploded sending the rim flying up towards his face. My uncle tried to protect his face by covering it with his arms but did not have enough time to react. He had only got his wrist up to his face when the tire rim hit breaking his face as well as his jaw. Thank God it did not cause any brain damage but easily could of. He was then rushed to the hospital to take care of his injuries. Now the heart surgery was unexpected and very scary. My aunt Michelle or as I like to call her Aunt Shall was the one who noticed and took action. One day Uncle Joe was burning trash and the fire got out of hand for him to control. That’s when he ran into the house to get Aunt Shall for help. As they both ran back out to the fire Uncle Joe had to sit down because his head was spinning, he was dizzy, and his vision went black. That’s when Aunt Shall insisted he go to the hospital and we are all glad she made him. He had a heart murmur at a rating of 5, which is really bad for an individual to have. He then was scheduled for a surgery and received one and came out perfectly fine. Unfortunately he could not work and had to rest for a few months. That meant there was going to be a need for help on the farm.
I was asked to help with some work that needed to be done around the farm. At this point in my life is when I also learned how difficult it truly is to be a farmer. That’s why through those long hours of physical labor my interest was peaked to research the topic of a farmer. With some good resources I learned some pretty cool and interesting facts about a farmer and farming in general. Do you know farmers work seven days a week? If you did then good, but that was pretty simple so to build onto that did you know the average farmers age is 65 years old and working seven days a week? Well it is absolutely true if you don’t believe it. Now time for a little history lesson. In 1940, one farmer annually fed 19 people. Now that one farmer is annually feeding 155 people. That’s very impressive beings that there were 6.3 million farmers in 1940, and now 2.2 million. That goes to show how many new machine we have that increased the quality and quantity output. Also here is a surprising fact for you farmers. Did you know out of every dollar that is spent on food you get 19 cents from it, not even two tenths of the dollar? To me I found that shocking I would have imagined at least somewhere above 30 cents. This is exactly why I have a tremendous amount of respect for farmers in America.
Now back to my example, Uncle Joe. This man has impacted my life in many ways more than I could have imagined. For example he taught me the importance of communication and public speaking. That’s when he explained to me a farmer who doesn’t like to talk is a farmer who doesn’t want to be farming for long. Whether it may be talking on the phone to different company’s for cheaper feed prices or better deals its very important. I myself learned this last year first hand when I received the president spot for Midd-West FFA and had to lead the chapter for the first time. There was a lot of need for being able to talk and I’m glad I knew how to approach each and every situation.
If there is one thing you learned from this article I hope it’s the importance of what it means to have farmers. Like I said before, without them we would be naked and hungry all the time. Also like Uncle Joe they teach us a lot of useful skills similar to what we learn in school. Also they go through numerous injuries sometimes big or small, but I’m glad and appreciate what they do for us each and every day. So as my final statement thank you Pennsylvania Farmers.