Sharing my farm story has been one of the most fulfilling and amazing things I have been able to do since I moved to the farm just 10 short years ago. This has been a crazy kick start to what I know is going to be a fantastic, educational year for me.
As my first busy week approached, I felt the jitters as I made my preparations. I had been asked to speak at a conference and share my farm story and its importance to me. From there I was scheduled to jet out to Indianapolis and speak to a Young Farmer Leadership Conference. Needless to say it was going to be a whirlwind week!
I gathered pictures of my family and farm and put them into a nice presentation for all to see. I boasted facts and talking points that I was proud of and packaged it neatly to go on the road, ready to share. As I was carrying my things to the car, I saw the boys’ tractors all lined up in a row in the toy room. Some of the toys still had soybeans from fall harvest sitting in the little wagons.
Then it hit me. My boys love and breathe the farm as much as I do, and this is why I share. This is why it is so important that I tell our family farm story to anyone who is willing to listen. It is so that, one day, my kids can feel and share the same passion I have about the farm. It is so that, some night, I can look out my window and know that the tractor lights I see blazing back and forth across the field are the ones from my son working the field as his dad and grandpa have taught him. It is so I can bring my boys out to the pigs with me and assign them tasks that they know are centered on care and respect for the animal. I want my sons to know that they can make a living farming for their family, and make food for the entire world.
At the end of my presentation I have a slideshow of all of the pictures I take and share with others about our farm. The slides are set to some beautiful music. That slideshow has managed to make me tear up in front of three audiences in four days. Why? Because it is amazing the things you can do and the people you can touch once you open your farm and your life up for others to see.
I am proud of who I am and what I do. I know that, in their lifetime, my sons are going to be better than we ever were at raising pigs because it is the mentality that we have instilled in them. Like their grandpa says, “every day you need to wake up and think, what can I do better today?” There are some days that you hear this and just want to roll your eyes and move on. But in reality you know that, every day, you are better for it. This is why I share.
Erin Brenneman, a member of the second class of Faces of Farming & Ranching, is a pig farmer from Iowa.
Brenneman Pork is a family farrow to finish operation. They consist of just over 20,000 sows over three sites. Erin’s main home farm is located in southeast Iowa and she also has two sow farms in Missouri. The operation was started by Erin’s in-laws and is where almost all of their children and spouses work full time. Erin enjoys helping in the fields during the busy seasons, but her passion is with the pigs.
To learn more about Erin’s farm, you can go to: