The EIEIO of Farming

“Old McDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.  And on this farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O.” 

So begins the well-known tune that young children and many adults enjoy mooing, baaing, quacking, and naying their way through. But have you ever stopped to wonder, amidst all the animal sounds, what the repeated vowels mean? I can’t say that I know for certain, but I can imagine. 

Old McDonald had a cow, so that makes him a dairy farmer, and I think perhaps those vowels form an acronym that describes a dairy farmer.

E is Energetic Entrepreneur

“E” could stand for energetic entrepreneur. As the chief executive of his business, a dairy farmer invests a tremendous amount of money, energy, and time into his enterprise. The farmer wakes early each morning, endeavoring to make his farm excel.

Unlike other entrepreneurs, a farmer’s enterprise is not just a business established to gain economic profitability. His business and his personal life are entwined because farming is not just a job; it’s a lifestyle he shares with his family.

Guest blogger, Kristin Johns, is the 2020-21 Pennsylvania Alternate Dairy Princess

The farmer’s life encompasses the care of living animals. He doesn’t just work eight hours five days a week, clock out, and go home. Even when not working, he remains on call. A calf could experience sickness, an exploring heifer could encounter danger, or a cow could give birth and need assistance. The dairy farmer strives each day not only to execute the essentials of his business, but to expand and enhance his operation so the inheritance he passes on to his children exceeds what he originally acquired.

I is Inspiring Icon of Impressive Intelligence

Next comes ‘I.’ Perhaps ‘I’ means that a dairy farmer is an inspiring icon of impressive intelligence. It takes immense knowledge to independently operate a farm. This includes knowing how to care for his herd to optimize production. He must be able to identify and initiate proper care for ill or injured animals. Insight for when and how to plant and harvest are key factors for this innovative individual. It is imperative that he understands the art of growing quality feeds – from choosing seed best suited to his soil, climate and growing season to determining the ideal time to harvest. This individual invests time in understanding finances, making sure income covers expenses, and understanding the intricacies of tax laws. Mechanical skills are necessary to insure reliable equipment. 

While much of this man’s immeasurable wisdom seems to be ingrained in his mind, he constantly seeks more insight. He initiates conversations with experts, he immerses himself in farm magazines, and he gains new ideas by attending meetings, seminars, conferences and conventions. From this information, he makes intelligent choices on which new innovations and resources to invest his money.

E is Expert Educator

Since the farmer is not content keeping his knowledge to himself, the second “E” stands for expert educator. Educating is something at which a dairy farmer excels. He passes on his intelligence. He trains employees. He eagerly teaches his children everything he knows. He instructs mainly by example as he works side by side with them, enriching them not only with farming skills but life skills. He provides resources and encouragement for his own children and other young people as they explore agriculture. This is most evident in his support of 4-H, FFA and other agricultural youth organizations. Often he serves in leadership positions within his community where he can effectively influence others.

Some farmers host tours that enable the public to experience and engage in farm life. He understands how essential it is to explain the truth about his industry, and wants to ensure the consumers of his product know their food comes from a good place.

I is Incredibly Important Individual

Speaking of food leads me to the second “I,” which stands for incredibly important individual. Farmers are indispensable. They provide a basic human need – food!  Each year American cows produce 218 billion pounds of milk, some of which is turned into intriguing products like yogurt, cheese, butter, and ice-cream. Dairy farmers positively impact people’s health with their nutritionally-rich product. Incredibly, the agricultural industry impact is increased since it creates 11% of American jobs. Farming is integral to the survival of the human race, which shows just how important of an individual a farmer is.

O is Official Overseer

E-I-E-I- and finally, “O,”which represents official overseer. Farmers are the original stewards of the earth. A farmer cares passionately about the welfare of his animals. Not only does his livelihood depend on their well-being, but he is emotionally attached also. One needs simply to take the opportunity to observe his reaction when an animal is endangered. My grandfather was a prime example. When several animals were trapped inside his burning barn, he organized a rescue operation. Oblivious to the danger to himself, he entered the barn determined to save lives. 

Perhaps because the farmer must overcome circumstances beyond his control, he is an eternal optimist. Paul Harvey said of the farmer, “[He] will… sit up all night with a newborn… and watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’” That is the outlook of this outstanding overseer to whom each life within his care matters.

Undeniably, a farmer is not just an average man. He is an important, educated individual who spends each day working to become a better overseer of his farm. He runs his own business and shows incredible intelligence while doing so. He passes on what he knows and shares what he has, with hope for the future. Yes, E-I-E-I-O very appropriately describes a successful dairy farmer.