A while back, after taking a personality test, I wrote a post about farmer personality types. My personality type, an INFJ, isn’t a natural fit for farming, except for possibly the agricultural position of cult leader. Still, despite what the test results say, I doubt I could lead a cult, even just a little farm cult. I mean, yes, most INFJs are a few worms short of a full bait cup, but we don’t like spreading our worms with others. We like to keep them to ourselves. We’re private people.
In that regard, INFJs–despite being generally unfit to wield a sharp hoe–may be drawn to the farming ideal, specifically the part about having a small corner of earth to call their hiding place. It wouldn’t surprise me if the first farmer was an INFJ. He was probably sick and tired of chasing woolly mammoths across the continent with his band of obnoxious hunter-gatherer buddies and just wanted some alone time. Thus, he decided to get out of the mammoth race, stay in one cave, and grow stuff. The first nomad became a farmer not because he was good at farming, but because he was tired of traveling and enjoyed being at a cave called “home.” Likely, because he was a terrible farmer, he starved to death and his skeleton still rests on the floor of that forgotten cave. Nevertheless, his idea about home caught on, and eventually people with more tactile abilities started growing stuff and built a civilization.
Fast forward thousands of years to 2020. To cobble together enough acreage to make a living, grain farmers here are driving mammoth combines down narrow country roads, dodging mailboxes and logging trucks, to tracts all the way on the other side of the county. They don’t particularly enjoy traveling so far just to find land to work, but they do take a certain pride in extending their territorial planting range. Today’s farmer has evolved from chasing mammoths to driving them. By 2100, however, there will likely be no local farmers because our crop production will be outsourced to tech specialists in India, driving mega-combines and tractors remotely by joystick.
All this sounds swell enough and is likely inevitable as farms grow bigger and bigger and farmers work land farther and farther away from home. But there is a certain irony in the decree to “get big or go home.” Going home used to be the whole point of farming, at least back when people chased mastodons.