I was excited to hear the first week of November has been proclaimed in Iowa as “Farmer Wave Week,” encouraging Iowans to display their “Midwest hospitality” as they encounter farmers during their travels. After 16 years of living in Iowa and moving to a rural community, I have increasingly had experience with and adopted the “wave,” and think it speaks to something bigger, that deserves to be celebrated.

My first vehicle was an old pickup truck. I was very proud of it. I remember coming home one day after a leisurely drive around Madison County and laughing to my Dad that a lot of people I didn’t even know gave me a “two-finger” wave as we drove by one another. Now, disclaimer, I spent most of my childhood in Phoenix where waving to people wasn’t very common among strangers. So, this was quite the phenomenon for me to experience. It was... nice, and it made me feel… good.

I quickly learned in the Midwest, waving is just the thing you do. Craig and I got a chance to meet one of our neighbors recently, and she remarked on how nice it was to have people living in our house that waved because that’s what nice rural people do! But after marrying into a farm family and becoming passionate about agriculture, I found myself waving for a different reason—to bring a little piece of hope and support, even if I don’t know the person behind the wheel. 

Farming is a hazardous and stressful job. In fact, it’s one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States with equipment rollovers, grain entrapments and incidents with livestock happening every day. It can also be emotionally draining and physically fatiguing. From the long hours spent away from loved ones, to “unpredictables” such as prices, weather and machinery breakdowns. Plus, all that time to think in the tractor and listen to the latest headlines of what’s going on in the country, it all gets overwhelming.

So, I wave.

My wish is in that split second, raising my hand, giving a nod, or smiling will give a farmer a piece of what I felt when others waved to me—a sense of belonging, and to show them they are supported within their community. I hope others will wave, too, and continue to wave even after this designated week is over. I think the world could use a little more kindness, and it could all start with a simple wave. 

By Caitlyn Lamm. Caitlyn is Iowa Farm Bureau's public relations specialist.