Realizing the therapeutic benefits of farming.

I wish everyone knew how therapeutic it is to enjoy the wonders of even the simplest experiences of day-to-day farming.  

Having spent most of my career in an office environment, I never really understood all the buzz about farming. I especially never realized the mental benefits of farming until I got a chance to experience nature up close and decided to purchase a beautiful piece of Missouri land. My wife and I originally purchased the farm for recreation in 2008. It was a place where my son Joey and I could get out and enjoy nature with things like fishing or hunting for deer and turkeys. 

But when I purchased a small tractor to plant a few food plots, this is when I really began to enjoy the benefits of farming. Joey and I started clearing small fields to plant alfalfa, soybeans, sunflowers, turnips, and other crops in an effort to attract and retain deer and turkeys on the property. This was our first real taste of the wonderful feelings that can be achieved through farming. It is hard to explain the amount of pride you get when watching something grow, remembering that you once had nothing but dirt, and then getting to look at a mature crop in the field that did not even exist a couple of months earlier. These results didn’t follow with little to no effort; there was clearing the land, running the disk harrow, fertilizing the soil,  planting the seeds in rows, and of course, there was the much-needed assistance from mother nature in the form of rain. But knowing that the crop was serving as a meaningful food source for wildlife gave me a sense of accomplishment that I could help support the living world around me. 

Later down the road, in 2009 and 2010, we began stocking our lake and two ponds with bass, bluegill, catfish, and crappie. Now, we fish on the lake regularly, and over the years, we’ve had several hundred people over to enjoy some successful fishing at our farm. Talk about good feelings, how about watching your 6- and 7-year-old grandchildren catch their first fish? The expressions on their faces are something I will never forget. 

“I wish everyone knew how therapeutic it is to enjoy the
wonders of even the simple experiences of day-to-day farming.”

Jim O’Connor

In 2012, our plan for the farm expanded once again to include owning and breeding registered longhorn cattle. This endeavor brought on many new challenges, including pasture renovation, fencing, corral building, and supplying water to multiple pastures. Not to mention, we did not know very much at all about raising longhorn cattle. And of course, this effort required bigger tractors and other equipment, which were both challenging and fun when learning how to operate them. Sure, we city boys made some mistakes, but our neighbors helped us learn many valuable lessons and helped us fix things when we messed up.

It may be hard to imagine without trying it for yourself, but owning cattle has brought even more enjoyment and fulfillment to our lives at the farm. These days, we look forward to the spring calving season each year. Seeing new babies almost daily all with their different colors and dispositions is so exciting. For me, it’s getting to see a heifer deliver her first calf and instantly knowing to dry, protect, and feed her new baby that warms my heart. 

Having quality time to spend with friends and family is the key component to realizing the full therapeutic benefits of farming. It can be time spent getting a helping hand, farming with others, or sharing your farm while spending a couple of hours fishing, hunting, or looking for morel mushrooms. It can also be simply enjoying a barbeque with fellow farm neighbors once the hay crop is wrapped and stored. These are the types of experiences that make you appreciate the beautiful world we live in.