May 252011

By April York

I am a farmer’s daughter.

When I was a little girl, Granny Mac and I would play dress-up, watch soap operas, write spelling sentences, and eat hoecakes while everybody else stripped tobacco, or did the cattle round-up. I read books when I could’ve been learning to rake hay. When I was at the tobacco barn, I did my best to sit in the black swirly chair reading the comics or planning the seating arrangements for Thanksgiving family dinner.

Once I was old enough to realize how proud I was of my farming heritage, and not just because I knew where milk came from, and to realize how much I was missing, it felt too late. I have a memory, I don’t know when it’s from, of walking down the lane and feeling like I wanted to belong there, to feel a connection to the land. But I had already struck my stick in the ground, saying I was something else: a scholar, an academic. I was wrong.

Though I think I’ve known it for a long time, I realized I was a farmer’s daughter sitting in an exquisite home on an expansive farm on the outskirts of Lexington. Coming to the city made me realize just what a country girl I am. Though I avoided it, I have stripped tobacco: Box # 3, Red. I’ve kicked corn, moved palettes, and climbed the rafters of a barn.

But being a farmer’s daughter is more than owning a pair of cowboy boots, getting your first driving lesson in a pickup truck in the middle of a field, or thinking stringing green beans is fun.

Being a farmer’s daughter is knowing what willy is, and having some. It’s understanding the sacred beauty of land, being at peace when all you can see around you are trees, fences, and a few cows. It is appreciating what humans can do if they try in cooperation with the world and each other. It’s knowing dedication, hard work, ingenuity, and a bit of stubbornness will lead you far. It’s knowing that all you really need are the people you love. It’s cherishing a family dinner around the kitchen table. It’s simplicity and complexity all in one. Very intelligent men taught me these lessons from the honorable work they did side-by-side every day.

I am a farmer’s daughter, and I hope that one day, if I have a little girl, she might not just be a farmer’s granddaughter, but a farmer’s daughter too.

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