How Farm Life Shapes Optimism

How Farm Life Shapes Optimism
How Farm Life Shapes Optimism

Last week, I took an online quiz that promised to give me a list of my top strengths and biggest weaknesses. Even though I had a lot of other things to do that day, taking the test immediately shot to the top of my priority list. I had to know.

I had to know now.

Five minutes later, I had breezed through dozens of questions and I had the results.

Top strength: optimism

Bottom weakness: focus

(Let me insert here that I’ve told several family members about these results, and everyone laughed at “focus” being my weakness because they already knew that about me).

I live on a farm. And I think a few decades of farm life are bound to give anyone a healthy dose of optimism and a bit of a struggle with focus.

Optimism is an essential part of farm life — as necessary to the lifestyle as hard work and pick-up trucks and boots that don’t leak. You can’t farm without an optimistic outlook. It's engrained in every seed planted, every calf born, every desire and dream.

We hope; therefore, we farm.

And as for the lack of focus…I challenge anyone to stay focused on a farm where things are constantly happening.

I should go put the laundry on the clothesline — oh, those sunflowers really need to be watered, I’ll do that before I forget — oh! The first peony bloomed!! I should take a photo — I wonder if there are enough snap peas to harvest for dinner tonight? — Why is that goat hollering again? — The mail lady needs a signature on that package of bee supplies — We need to look up the part number for that tractor belt before we head to town on Thursday — oh, speaking of heading to town, there’s still a bag of horse feed on the passenger seat of the truck, gotta move that so I have somewhere to put the tools I’m taking out to the south forty…

Is this focused? Perhaps not in the traditional sense of focus, but in the sense of life on a farm, I’d say a lack of focus is borne of the circumstances and is an essential strength, not a weakness.

Farm life requires the ability to shift plans, concentrate on multiple things at once and juggle details with dexterity. If we’re intensely focused on anything, it’s on our hopes, dreams, and optimism.

Or at least that’s what I’m optimistically telling myself — oh, wait — I just remembered all those zucchini on the kitchen counter.

About the Author

Samantha Johnson is a writer, farm girl, and the author of more than a dozen books on rural living. She lives on a farm in northern Wisconsin with a colorful herd of Welsh Mountain Ponies, a bossy Welsh Corgi, and a wide assortment of tomato plants. View her portfolio at samanthajohnson.contently.com

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