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The worm farmer, the boss lady and the poet

Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 22 February 2019

Between thawing frozen pipes and putting earmuffs on calves, hopefully these cold winter days allow a few moments to catch up on your reading list. One book in particular has got me thinking deeply and laughing loudly.

In The Big Leap, author Gay Hendricks encourages you to hone in on the God-given gift that is your greatest contribution to the people around you. He says we all have a “unique ability” that, when realized, nurtured and exercised, yields joy and fulfillment in both work and personal life.

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So you may be wondering: How do you discover your own unique ability? Hendricks says it probably appeared early in your life. In other words, how did you spend your time when you were 10 years old?

Better yet, ask someone else and see what it reveals about where they are today. For example, my husband is naturally gifted in finance but also with a heart to help people solve problems. At age 10, he had started his own business … as a worm farmer. He identified a need and a market opportunity with the local fishermen, and quickly learned how to maximize his ROI by minimizing his cost of production down to a homemade worm zapper and his mom’s empty Cool Whip containers. Today, he’s an agriculture banker, applying those same basic skills every day to helping farmers become more profitable.

I asked a friend this same question. She recalls strategizing over Monopoly and cribbage games for hours, and playing “work,” which involved making lots of photocopies and her insisting on the role of “boss.” Turns out, those board games and early leadership skills built the foundation for the business acumen she stands on today as chief operating officer of an international company.

How did I spend my time as a fourth grader? Writing. I was that kid who wrote extra book reports for fun, with an accompanying illustration. My 4-H record book looked more like a doctoral thesis, skillfully hunt-and-pecked out with two index fingers on an electric typewriter.

Spending each evening milking cows with my family inspired creative poetry. I ran around the barn crafting rhymes about my love for my 25 mangy barn cats and all aspects of farm life. In fact, I’m sharing one of these original pieces with you right here. I invite you to have a laugh with me (or at me) as you read a 10-year-old’s perspective on agriculture appreciation, titled “A Salute to Farmers.”

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For me, the aptitude that emerged at age 10 was connecting with people and sharing my passion through writing. Though I forwent a career as a poet, I’m lucky enough to get to do what I love every day through Progressive Dairyman. My hope is that by sharing my gift, I can make your day just a little bit better and brighter.

On these cold winter days, take a minute to warm up by recalling the unique ability that started shining through in you at a young age. Maybe you weren’t a worm farmer, a boss lady or a poet, but you bring to the world a valuable contribution of your own.

A Salute to Farmers
Written by Peggy Coffeen, at age 10

Do you remember that ice-cold glass 
of milk you drank this morn’?

Did you know it wouldn’t be there 
if a baby calf wasn’t born?

What about that nice thick, 
juicy piece of bacon?

To me, the world ain’t giving, 
To me, it’s just been taking.

A thank you should be given 
to the people who take part

In raising the food you buy at WalMart.
So here I go, I’ll take a shot, 
to show you what I mean.

Believe me, them old farmers, 
they’re really pretty keen.

Pig farmers work so hard, 
to bring us bacon, fat and lard.

Sheep farmers do lots of cut’n 
to bring us furry wool and mutton.

Beef farmers do lots of feeding
for all the meat the world is needing.

And people who raise dairy herds, 
bring us yummy cheese and curds.
To those of you who raise crops like hay, 
I don’t think you get enough pay.

And if milking goats is the thing you do,
then you deserve a big thank you!

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So, when you are driving 
behind a load of manure,

Think about the food in the grocery store.
So what if a glob lands on your car?
It’s better than the whole load, by far!  end mark

Peggy Coffeen
  • Peggy Coffeen

  • Editor
  • Progressive Dairyman
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