Silence was the enemy through out my childhood. It was always there. Every now and then, the roar of an engine would cut through the air, but it was silence only a few moments later. I would fight the silence that was my prison. I would bang pots and pans and swing in the backyard just to hear the squeaking of the jungle gym. It was not until I left the farm that I called my home in favor of the town where I would get my education that I understood that silence was not my warden, but my salvation. I have spent many nights wishing for my friend to return to quiet the girls in the hallway or the truck backing in to a loading dock. It was then that I realized that the little things that I thought I hated were the things that I loved the most. They were the things that made me a country bumpkin.
After spending my life trying to defend myself against the term, I now embrace “country bumpkin” with open arms. I see nothing wrong with being from an area where cows are more prevalent than stoplights and 4—H members are looked up to. I enjoyed the extra day of Thanksgiving Break that we got so my friends could go hunting. The smell of manure reminds me of warm spring days inside classrooms. I am glad that the idea of locking my door is foreign to me. I have spent my life sheltered by crops and animals.
Ashland, no matter how small of a town people think it is, is still a town full of people who do not understand the way I was raised. I have friends who refuse to leave campus unless they have a guy to protect them. I mention things like sending cows to butcher and people look at me like I am from a different planet as they push their cheeseburgers away in disgust. I have taken my share of derogatory comments about the way I have grown up.
One of my friends lives on a farm as well. Once, she took me and two of our other friends to Sunday dinner at her home. While there, she gave us a tour of the dairy barn and showed us the new calves. One of the others, who grew up near Dayton, was very excited and made us take a picture of her petting the calf. She had never been on a farm before and made sure to call her mom afterwards to tell her she touched a “moo cow.”
I have not been exposed to all of the finer things in life, but when I went to New York and Chicago, I did not pet any buildings and call skyscrapers “sky—skies.” I know that I have not seen great works of architecture, but I realize my deficiencies and try to make up for them. I read books, I ask questions, and I try to better myself. It seems that the 98% of people who do not live on farms do not try to have new experiences at all.
Thomas Jefferson thought farmers were the chosen people, but, in today’s society, they are thought of as dumb people who wear overalls. While our culture is no longer agrarian, farmers are still the under—appreciated backbone of this nation. Perhaps the city slickers need to emerge from their high—rises and taxis to realize that eggs do not magically appear in cartons, milk does not come automatically pasteurized in a plastic gallon jug, and veal is a slaughtered baby calf.
Melissa Miser is a freshman from Cumberland, Ohio, majoring in Political Science.