Blue Highways Journey – Episode 12 – Trust

Reggie Booker was preparing for his first solo blue highways journey. While his introduction to the blue highways experience had been a life-changing experience for him, he still wanted a plan for his own journey. He especially was interested in what he could learn from the economics of family farms. When he decided on the area of the country he wanted to visit, he contacted the County Extension Office for a name of a person to visit.

Grady Moon was more than willing to meet with Reggie. “Sure, next week would be great. In fact, you can help me make hay.” 

When Reggie arrived at the Moon farm, he was surprised by the number of trucks parked in the yard. He got there just as a group of men were getting ready to go to the hay field. Grady introduced Reggie, and off they went. The hay had been cut and raked into wind rows. Today they would be baling the hay and placing it on a wagon for transport to the barn. Reggie’s job was to follow the wagon and lift bales to the stacker riding on the wagon.

At the end of the day, he was exhausted. Reggie stayed behind as the other men left. “That must be a huge labor cost,” Reggie said. “Not really, see we support each other. Next week I’ll help with Jake’s hay fields,” Grady answered. “The only way we can survive is if we help each other.” 

Reggie continued his journey and had an opportunity to visit with other farmers he had met at Grady’s. Throughout these visits he began to develop a sense of the farm economy. He was especially impressed by the decision making of the farmers. At the beginning of the planting season, they had to decide what to plant and how much to plant. The local feed store provided them seed with the expectation that they would be paid when the crops were sold.

Reggie also discovered that the farms were much more interdependent than he realized. One farmer’s crops could have an adverse effect on the neighbor’s crops through cross contamination. An organic farm could be ruined if an adjacent farmer spread fertilizer on a windy day. And water usage was critical. Each farmer had to conserve water so that others would have enough.

What Reggie began to realize was that family farms were an example of a trust economy. There were no legal agreements. They trusted each other. There were no contracts. What existed in place, were a set of principles that were much more effective than words on paper.

Reggie began to think about the huge legal costs that he had to budget for each year. What would it take to develop the trust relationships that the farmers had with each other? He needed to begin to develop those relationships.

* * *

“Relationships are about trust. If you have to play detective, then it’s time to move on.”
– Unknown

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