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Tuesday, June 02, 2020
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It's a Country Thing

     Even though I have spent most of my career working in the city, still for most of my life I have returned home to the country every evening. I live on a farm owned by my family since 1862. I guess you could say my roots grow deep in the soil of Shelby County. However, I still wonder whether I can truly call myself a country person rather than a city slicker!

     One of the necessities of living on a family farm is owning a pick-up truck. There is hardly a day that goes by that I do not require the use of this vehicle for some farm activity. Often it involves hauling feed or equipment related to some farm activity. Other times the truck is used to pull a trailer carrying farm equipment. I drive an eight-year-old Ford pick-up truck with rubber floor mats, a growing collection of scratches and a few small dents.

     Living on a two-lane country road, I pass a multitude of other pick-up trucks on a daily basis  many of which are also farm trucks. They may be old, loud, or souped up in some capacity. They often carry farm- related materials in the bed. These trucks tend to be mud covered in the winter and dust covered in the summer. Usually, weather permitting, the vehicle is driven with the drivers window rolled down. I note with some curiosity that drivers of farm pick-up trucks almost always wave as you pass them. The wave might sometimes include an arm out the window. But most often it is simply the lifting of the right hand slightly off of the steering wheel as the vehicle passes.

     Is this an expression of neighborliness?  Or is it just a strange habit ? I think it’s the former. My general belief about country life is that folks tend to be neighborly. Sometimes when a neighbor's cow gets out too many times, we may resort to fewer words but more direct expression of frustration about our corn crop being trampled upon. But most of the time country folks are just friendly. Not long ago a gate to one of my fields was not closed properly. Several cows got out without my knowing it. A neighbor stopped to tell me that I had cows out and also to assist in getting them back in. Though I thanked him, he seemed  to view his assistance as a natural course of action and just the right thing for a neighboring farmer to do.

    I find the farm truck wave to be affirming.  It is an expression of neighborliness, friendship and acknowledgement.  It is a salute to a fellow farmer, male or female, and a long-standing tradition of the brotherhood of farming. It says, "We're in this together. I'm here for you just as I know you're here for me."

     The pick-up truck salute is also an example of just how friendly country folks still are. In many parts of the country, particularly in urban areas, such a gesture might be interpreted differently or looked upon with suspicion or disdain. 

      I guess it’s just a country thing that some city folks wouldn't understand.