20 Years Behind

One of my classes, AGR*1110 (Introduction to Agri-Food Systems) has recently been talking about livestock systems. As we learn about beef, dairy, poultry and pork farming, I’m realizing more and more how little I know about agriculture. I’m not the only one in my program who isn’t from a farming background, but there’s very few of us. Not growing up on a farm puts me almost 20 years of experience behind the rest of my classmates.

As I look around the lecture hall, I can see heads nodding with approval at the lecture topic. With every sentence uttered by my prof about the ins and outs of the beef business, dozens of heads bob along and put in their two cents about the industry. The same goes for all the other topics we’ve discussed in the last two weeks. I, on the other hand, have nothing to say. For the first time in my life, I have nothing to add to the conversation (shocking, I know!). Everything is new to me, which I love. What I don’t love is having everyone around me already know what I’m just beginning to learn and feeling the slightest bit alienated.

Don’t get me wrong, my classmates are more than happy to help me understand. But learning about animals in a classroom is a lot different than growing up around them. I can tell you how the digestive system of a cow works, but I can’t tell you what it’s like when you’re up all night with a sick calf. I can tell you irrigation requirements for field crops, but I can’t tell you what it’s like to be combining for 18 hours straight. My classmates have lived this, and I’m nowhere close. It’s one of those moods that make me want to (excuse my language) shovel shit for a summer, just to see what it’s like. I feel like I need to spend a few years on a farm doing odd jobs, helping with the harvest and the animals, so that I at least have some context when learning in school. No matter what I do, though, I’ll still have 20 years of catching up to do.

Keep Calm and Farm On,

Emma — The Suburban Aggie

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