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Farm Byline: November 2021

Tenants of The Almighty

by Al Gustin


It was more than 50 years ago, at one of the first conventions of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters I attended. The broadcaster who gave the invocation at the banquet said, “Thank you, God, for letting us work with the greatest people on earth. And thank you for the opportunity to help them help you feed a hungry world.” His prayer was a reminder to us farm broadcasters that we had an educational role to play in the landlord-tenant relationship that exists between farmers, ranchers and The Almighty.

One man who spoke openly about that relationship was Samuel R. Guard, the editor of the Breeder’s Gazette, a national magazine popular with livestock producers in the 1940s. Guard included a farmer’s prayer in each issue of the Gazette.

In one, Guard wrote, “Gracious Landlord in the skies, we are so glad you renewed our lease. May we ever be partners. Count every click of our planter a prayer to thee to bless the seed. Bless every chick and calf, every shote and sheep, every cat and canary hereabouts. Bless our plows and our harrows, too.”

I recall being at a Soil Conservation District banquet a number of years ago. One of the area ranch families was being recognized for the work they had done in caring for the land they owned. But I wondered, can one really own part of Mother Earth? In reality, aren’t we just tenants?

It was a long time ago when Guard wrote those prayers in the Breeder’s Gazette. But hopefully, Guard’s words still strike a chord with us when we read, “Captain of the eternal guard, on these acres of drill ground, we are present and accounted for. We put up hay, make grass silage, seed sweet sudan, that everyone in thine image may have milk and meat enough. So, for these heavy lambs, healthful heifers, pink-combed pullets and pigs well-weaned, we would give thee thanks. Make us good husband-like tenants ever, and worthy of thy bounty.”

The message of that invocation all those years ago was that farm broadcasting was more than just a job. Guard’s prayers tell us that farming and ranching is more than just a job, too.

Al Gustin is a retired farm broadcaster, active rancher and a member of Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative.