Farming was among the earliest of civilized man’s occupations, and it has been the main economic basis of every civilization down to fairly recent times. Among ancient peoples, the landowner was regarded, along with the warrior, as the most respected and honoured of men.
Our own African civilization is grounded on the ideals of a simple agricultural society, where farmers and their outlook on life largely shaped our societies.
Perhaps the first question which anyone who considers taking up farming as a career asks himself is: Do I like farming as a way of life?
Whether working in the fields, orchard, or garden or taking care of livestock, farming involves many kinds of tasks and skills. In addition, a farmer usually has to keep his equipment in good shape; do repair jobs around the house, kraal, and sheds; clear out brush and cut wood; possibly keep drainage ditches open or mend roads, and do a hundred and one odd jobs.
Those who prefer work in the country to work in the city contrast these varied tasks with the monotonous job of the factory hand who performs the same operation at high speed, hour after hour and day after day; or with that of the white-collar worker, sitting at his desk all day long, often under artificial light and in a hot, stuffy room.
Industrial life, say the farming enthusiasts, is a relatively new experience for man. The modern type of factory and the crowded and grimy industrial city have only been in existence for about a century. It is true that a large portion of our population and that of other industrial countries-has become adapted to the speedy tempo and inflexible routine. Some even enjoy it, but many do not and would flee from the city if they could.
It is true that nearly all of us feel a deep kinship with nature—but the farmer lives with it. He is intimately connected with the cycle of life. Many envy him and long for a small plot of soil where they can at least plant and grow flowers and vegetables.
There is, of course, the old saying, “The farmer’s day is never done.” The chores on a farm are many and the monetary rewards often limited. But many farmers do not think of their occupation solely in terms of cash.
To till the earth, to plant seeds and watch them grow, to see the young shoots mature in the summer sun, and then to harvest the crop are, to many people, deep and rewarding pleasures. So is the intimate association with animals—cattle, horses or donkeys, chickens, pigs, or sheep— creatures who serve man well but who must be cared for tenderly and patiently. These and other rewards of farming often compensate for a meagre cash income, lack of household comforts, and constant worry about drought, frost, flood, or other unfavourable turns of the weather, which may damage crops or ruin fields.
Those who prefer the city to the country have their answers to these arguments. Factory and office work, they say, may be less healthy and more nerve-racking than farming. Cities may be noisy and crowded compared with the quiet and serenity of country life. But an urban environment is more stimulating mentally. Its social life is richer. It offers more opportunities for entertainment-organized sports, movies, and in some of the larger cities, legitimate theatres, symphony orchestras, operas, ballets, lectures, museums, and the like.
If it›s any comfort, perhaps we can take solace in these two quotes on farming when thinking of it as a career;
“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will, in the end, contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” — Thomas Jefferson, and “Farming is a profession of hope.” — Brett Brian.