First Citizens National Bank President and Chief Operating Office Judy Long attributes growing up on a farm to teaching her a strong work ethic and self-discipline, shaping her into a Smart Woman. Here are her thoughts on growing up in agriculture:
1. I learned responsibility at a young age. I understood that you had daily chores first and play time second. We chose to spend our free time outside. There was no iPhone or video games. We did not have to worry about weight, as we were constantly on the move!
2. My husband, Roger, and I are always commenting that we learned strong work ethics from our parents. When it was time to work, we knew we had to work — no questions asked and no excuses accepted!
3. Your siblings and cousins were your best friends. We were together all the time — at home, church and school. There was and still is an unbreakable bond between family.
4. You had to make your own play time entertainment. Tunnels in the hay barn, telling stories, or swinging on the grape vine across the Obion River backwater that filled the ditch. You always found entertainment and fun. We were definitely creative.
5. We learned how to face tough times and to handle a crisis. Farm life is not always easy. You could not run to the grocery store every day; you went once a week, and you planned ahead to ensure you had all you required for the next week. You saw animals die, you cried, and then you processed what happened and went back to work.
6. You learned to take care of your things. There were school clothes and shoes; then there were Sunday clothes and shoes. You saved your best for the Lord’s Day. You could not order online, and it was a full day’s trip to Dyersburg!
7. You learned how to drive and operate equipment at a young age. If you lived on a farm, you did not have a choice but to drive a tractor or a farm truck. Life on the farm was fun when you were learning new experiences, but not so fun after it became your job.
8. We enjoyed grandparents’ stories about the farm back in the olden days and seeing their faces light up as you carry on the passion for agriculture.
9. You learn to have a deep love of the land and God’s blessings. We had no choice but to appreciate our connection with God and nature. It builds an appreciation in you for all things, and you learn not to take your blessings for granted.
10. You got out of school in the spring and fall to pick and chop cotton. This was not the favorite time of the year for students in farm community schools. This was time for most of us to work. However, we absolutely loved September and the county fair.
11. You learned the value of hard work and a dollar. You knew if you worked hard you would be paid $3.00 for every 100 pounds of cotton you picked. Your grandmother and mother would always lend a hand to help you get those last few pounds. I earned about $3.00 a day. Today’s young people would not go to work all day in the hot field for $3.00. I know the value of a dollar, and I still work hard to earn a paycheck. That is just what you do. It is not a privilege; the farm taught you it is a responsibility.
12. You learn to care for others, not just yourself. You had to take care of your brother, sister or cousin that was younger when adults had work to do.