When I first found out my husband and I were going to have our first child, I was overjoyed—and totally freaked out. So many thoughts weighed on my mind; how would I know what to do when our little man arrived? What were we going to do about day care? How was I going to balance work and be a good mom and wife?

Then I worried why my husband didn’t seem to have any worries at all. Was he going to be able to help me enough between his fulltime job and farm work? Could he watch our child without me there, make doctor’s appointments or handle important care decisions on his own?

Finally, one day while expressing my worries he said to me, “Cait, you’re jumping to conclusions and our kiddo isn’t even here yet.” I paused. He was right. I was ignoring all his good qualities that I know, and assuming the worst about what I didn’t.

The other day as I listened to the worries and fears of folks who live sometimes miles away from proposed hog barns, I realized how familiar their unfounded fears were to my own, just a few short months ago, before my son was born. Why are so many so quick to ostracize young farmers wanting to put up livestock barns?

Those who knew the family putting up the barns said they had integrity—if they said they were going to do something the right way, it was going to be done the right way and that one would be hard-pressed to find better people. Others feared the absolute worst, being swayed by professional agitators bent against conventional livestock farming.

Livestock farming isn’t perfect, but that is why farmers and researchers continue to find ways to improve it. And from what I’ve seen, when farmers have followed through in using new technologies, like electrostatic fences to cut down on odors, their neighbors and fellow community members have been appreciative. Hog farmers also plant trees to cut down on odor and dust leaving the farm. And I’ve met many farmers who make sure they check in with their neighbors to ensure they are not disturbing any plans they might have when the farmer is getting ready to apply manure into the soil.

At the end of the day, I think we all need to give each other a chance to prove we mean what we say and more should trust our best nature. But, if you have questions about livestock farming, I know quite a few farmers across the state who would gladly share how they are raising a safe food supply with the environment in mind. The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers also has a useful list of resources to check out on various livestock farming topics.  

As for my story? Well, our son is now five months old and turns out my husband is a great father. We both had to learn and grow beyond ourselves, and I sure wish I wouldn’t have doubted him. I’ll remember that next time around. After all, if he can handle messy situations that involve diaper changing, a quick full body wipe-down and second outfit for baby, cleaning himself up after an “incident” and still getting the kiddo strapped in the car seat in time to take off for day care, he has already proven he’s committed enough to handle all the other stuff which one day may come up (or, out)!  

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