By Rebecca French Smith
Once in a while when channel-surfing, I stumble across Mike Rowe’s show, “Dirty Jobs.” I usually stop because I admire his willingness to do almost anything. Last weekend on the show, he was on a reindeer ranch, where he learned a thing or two about raising reindeer, not least of which was how to start a beater feeder truck and how to avoid the antlers.
What I love about Rowe is his genuine interest in learning new things. He has an open mind. When he visits farms, he asks hard questions about how and why a task is done. Most of the time he heeds his instruction, but there was a time when, he admits, he tried something another way, only to acquiesce to the farmer’s knowledge and wisdom.
It’s okay to question how things are done, and it’s a good idea to ask the right people. Rowe sets a good example, one Missouri bloggers and other guests exemplified on Missouri Farm Bureau (MFB) Farmers and Ranchers Matter (FARM) Tours this fall. Though they didn’t get elbow-deep in any “dirty jobs,” those who came on the tours stepped foot onto working Missouri farms to ask tough questions and find answers.
Guests discovered why one cattle rancher brands his cattle because cattle rustling a very real threat in Missouri. They learned how biotech seeds planted by farmers are important to water and soil conservation. On the dairy farms, farmers shared the intensely regulated process that mandates the safety of the dairy products their guests buy in the store.
In turn, the tour farmers were curious about what their guests did for a living and what spurred their questions. They were aware, as most farmers are, that consumers have a desire to know more about farming. In a very real way, the tours were a lot like “Dirty Jobs” in that our guests learned directly from a farmer doing the work and then shared what they learned with others.
We shared one blogger’s take on the experience in September, “Why Tour Farms?”, in this column, and were encouraged by other accounts these guests shared online on blogs and social media. Instagram was fill with photos of dairy calves, and Twitter with snippets of discovery.
It’s no secret; first-hand experience is usually best. But when it isn’t possible we always have farmers, bloggers and Mike Rowe.