Lincoln County lost one of her remaining stalwart citizens last week when Harvey V. Houser died.
He was among the last of the old-time farmers who wore their overalls with pride. His faith, family and hard work were what he was all about.
Most of us who grew up on farms in western Lincoln County had fled the way of life that he relished. We gave up working 24/7, the possible drought of summer, the rainy fall season, the fluctuating markets, or dealing with whatever insect happened to hit the crop that season.
We needed the assurance of a weekly paycheck.
What is it about only the strongest survive? It could apply to farmers, too.
Their strength takes them back into the fields year after year and only when age keeps them from behind the plow or off the farm machinery, do they grudgingly give up the way of life they crave.
One of the many friends I made while working at the newspaper was the late George Studemire. He was a most loved and respected Lincoln County Agriculture Extension Chairman for many years.
He knew the farmer well and spent days traveling the county offering friendship along with advice on the lastest crop science.
George dropped in often at the newspaper office with newsworthy items, just to chat, or as he jokes, to get in out of the heat.
He knew about farm life, the sweat, the struggles and the triumphs that came along with it.
He once told me that most country people didn’t believe in gambling, but farmers were the biggest gamblers of all. Who else, he said, would put a year’s work on the block like a farmer.
Love makes them do it. Love of nature, the outdoors, of watching seeds you planted sprout, spring from the dirt, grow and turn into food for the table with enough surplus to fund next year’s crops.
The pleasure of being a landowner, the contentment of knowing the storage shed and pantry were almost full and the belief the next year’s harvest would be even better.
The joy of watching your children and grandchildren swing from the giant oak tree which was no bigger than a switch when it was planted. Its roots also grew strong digging deeper and deeper into the soil.
George knew that was why farmers gambled.
Harvey knew it, too.
Kathryn Yarbro is former managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.