There is just something about watching a hay bale birthed—freshly pressed from the wispy produce of the land. A baby bale all swaddled in stretch wrap or tucked in twine and ready for nourishing life in others. I salute the tireless farmers and ranchers of our world who make it possible for our bowls of cereal to our fast-food burgers.

In 1978, radio broadcaster Paul Harvey gave his classic “So God Made a Farmer” speech that was later reprised in a 2013 Super Bowl commercial. Here I share Mr. Harvey’s wise and touching perspective on the everyday resiliency of the men and women who care for the land. I’m proud of my rural America heritage and grateful that the food I eat, the clothes I wear, and the air I breathe are all possible because God
made farmers.

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a
caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day
in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past
midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough
to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery,
come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies
and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God
made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch
it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape
an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can
make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time
and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n
from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in
ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the
first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet
gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets,
who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had
to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to
seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece
and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with
a five-mile drive to church.

“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who
would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he
wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.’” So God made a farmer.