Farmer Wisdom


walking in rainThe theme my personal website,, is “Hope.” Simple in many ways, so elusive for people in others. When I need some fresh inspiration, I often will roam around looking for interesting thoughts from a variety of sources. Recently, I ran across this:

An old horse, an old dog and an old farmer have much in common: they are slow but wise.

Since old horses and old dogs can’t share any of their wisdom with us, I’m guessing that first was uttered by some “old farmer,” perhaps one trying to justify his ways and his words to someone of a younger generation.

Fact is, that saying contains a good bit of truth. I have been around some old horses and many old dogs. And I’ve known a lot of old farmers in my day. My own dad grew up on a farm in the 1950s and has been working his own farm for more than four decades; I don’t want to call him “old,” but, well, he is 76 …

Anyway, not all farmers can articulate their wisdom in pithy phrases that people immediately scribble on a piece of paper, which then is attached to the fridge as a reminder of how to approach life. But what is so wonderful about some gems of “farmer wisdom” is that while many of them are understood in a practical way by those who live on a farm, they also contain a certain truth about how to look at the world even for those people who couldn’t tell the difference between a cow pie and horse droppings.

Here are a few I found that illustrate what I mean:

* If you must sing, do it when you’re calling the cows. Cows don’t care if you can’t carry a tune.

* Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

* Always drink upstream from the herd.

* Look down when walking in a cow pasture.

* Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.

There is so much to ponder in each one of those. I heard another one recently that has stuck with me in a profound way:

“It always rains after a long dry spell.”

Well, you say: “Duh!” Wouldn’t the end of a long dry spell be signaled by rain falling from the sky? Hello, Captain Obvious.

There is something special in that thought, though. I think of my brother-in-law, who has a farm in Kansas and suffered through a long drought last year. One of his brothers has a farm much farther west in Kansas and suffered through an even-nastier drought; they had 1 ½ inches of rain in September 2013 and didn’t have another measurable rain until May 2014. Tough to make a living off growing crops that way.

But farmers know it will end some day. They know that, eventually, rain will come. As much as – if not more than – people who work in any occupation, farmers hope.

That’s the word to which so many of us must cling: hope.

It often can be in short supply, especially when things aren’t going well. There are people who have been seeking a better job – or any job at all – for a long time. There are people with symptoms of an illness doctors have yet to diagnose or with a diagnosed illness that doesn’t seem to be improving. There are people with children in difficult circumstances – or perhaps parents in difficult circumstances – and are frustrated that no end seems in sight.

We see towns devastated by tornadoes, leaving people with no idea when or how they will rebuild. We see people suffering from loneliness and don’t know if anyone will visit, if anyone cares. Kids dealing with abject poverty in parts of Africa and South America, families living in a home terrorized by abuse, innocent people trying to make a good life amid drug-infested neighborhoods.

We’ve all experienced at least a moment of hopelessness.

Somehow, in all of those situations, there are people who manage some occasional happiness. Those are the people we should be consulting. Those are the people who can best point us toward hope. Lament a long dry spell and those folks will remind you that rain is coming some day.

Are they dreamers? Perhaps, but moreso they are students of history. It has always rained eventually.

Are they optimists. Maybe, but moreso they have a touch of patience. No matter how dark the night, the sun always will rise.

Are they fools? At times, yes, but moreso they are lovers of something, someone, and hope always accompanies love.

And I can guarantee you that a great many of those people who regularly carry hope in their mind are people who believe in God, who trust in His Love, who have a relationship with Jesus. They don’t always live guided by powerful hope; I can say that because I frequently feel hopeless and tired and uncertain about the future. Then, something happens – a beautiful song plays, a friend gives me a hug, one of my children calls on the phone, my wife does something nice for me, I hear of a person somewhere in the world acting in a completely selfless way to help a fellow human being. And I find hope.

Or I attend Mass on a Sunday when I really need to hear a specific message and that message is there. Maybe I am encouraged by someone telling me they love me. And I find hope.

Every day, people ask me to pray for them. Many of those people struggle to discover hope, to even believe it can exist. When I assure them of my prayers, perhaps a glimmer shines through in their dark night. All they need is a reminder that every long dry spell ends in rain.

You, my friend, can help someone find hope.


About Author

Mike Eisenbath has been married to Donna for 30 years; they have four adult children and two grandsons. He was an award-winning sportswriter for 23 years, including 18 at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch with duties that included covering the St. Louis Cardinals and Major League Baseball. Severe depression forced him out of that career. He continues to write, with a monthly column in the St. Louis Review and his website featuring reflections on topics such as his Catholic faith and mental illness. Mike is a frequent speaker and radio guest involving those subjects. Among his three books is Hence My Eyes Are Turned Toward You: Confronting Depression With Faith and the Prayer of Jehoshaphat.