Working at Farm Aid can be compared to organized chaos. When you answer the phone you never know if it is going to be Willie, a farmer, a senator, a reporter or friends and family on the other line. One thing always stops me in my tracks: tears. It isn’t very often but occasionally we get calls from farmers that are just in a hard spot. They need someone to listen.
For the past few weeks, I have been talking with a farmer who can bring my day to a halt. Despite the fact that she has a lawyer, a doctor, a husband and a few close friends for support, she and I talk about every other day. Initially, I worked hard to make sure that she had all the local resources that her case demands but these days we just talk. She describes her farm to me, tells me about a willow tree that is particularly special. She runs through the names of her animals and the dogs chime in now and then. Sometimes, she gets going so fast that I need to stop us both and we take a deep breath.
My farmer called today. The future of her farm is uncertain. We spoke for just a second as she was headed out the door to speak with her attorney. I told her just like always, “Call me when you get home. Tell me how it went.” She was crying, struggling hard to take a breath in the chaos. She promised to call and hung up the phone.
An hour later, I am still working on my own deep breaths. It is hard to get back into gear after a call like this. I think I will go outside for a moment and try and send some positive thoughts her way.