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Getting Stuck in the Mud

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Special Contributor to FB.org

photo credit: Alabama Farmers Federation, Used with Permission

By Susan Wilkins Taylor @susanlwilkins

When my little end of Pocahontas County started to experience the first signs of spring, I was excited although not about the inevitable mud that this season brings. Mud means putting chains on all the tractors and splattered windshields and clothes. Mud means feeding the cattle will take longer. Mud means cold chilled calves if they happen to be born in it. But even mud can teach us a lesson.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of attending a keynote address given by Greg Peterson of social media’s Peterson Farm Brothers. Greg shared a music parody video of tractors being stuck in the mud. He said that sometimes, we as human beings get “stuck in the mud.” We get bogged down in the muck and mire of the day-to-day happenings in our own lives and the world around us.

When we get a tractor hung up, it is pretty hard to get that tractor un-hung by yourself. I know personally. You can ask my brother how many times I have gotten stuck and frantically waved him down to get pulled out.

If you are struggling, please reach out to someone.

The same is true when we as individuals get stuck in the mud. Sometimes it takes people around you – your family, your spouse, your friends, a team, maybe a medical professional – to help you get pulled out. I am not ashamed to admit, I have been stuck in some pretty deep mud, without even a tractor to help. But I am learning that sometimes all it takes is calling a friend or family member and asking for help. Sometimes a friend will invite you to her state Farm Bureau meeting at a nice resort for a “girls’ weekend” and you feel like a farmer from Kansas traveled hundreds of miles just to deliver a message straight to you. I didn’t get my “tractor” all the way out of the mud that weekend, but I felt the front wheels start to gain a little bit of grip.

Farming and agriculture have always been about perseverance. And we as farmers, aspiring farmers, or farmer admirers must persevere as well. I know the mud is deep and the world can be ugly and mean. But let’s embrace each new season. Let’s focus on new life when it’s about to burst forth. The color that will soon seem like it appears overnight. Let’s focus on the rain, and even as it creates mud, let’s think about the sunshine that inevitably follows and how fresh and clean everything seems.

And friends, if you are struggling, please reach out to someone. Mental health is not a joke. It is nothing to be ashamed of. We all get stuck sometimes. Sometimes the hang-ups might be bigger than others. But ask for help.

Susan Wilkins Taylor is a fifth-generation farmer and West Virginia Farm Bureau member. She and her husband, Sherman Taylor, are an active part of her family’s beef cattle farm in the mountains of West Virginia. She is a past member of AFBF’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee and was a 2014 recipient of the McCloy Fellowship in Agriculture. This column was originally published in WVFB Magazine and is republished with permission.