Recently several farmers have texted me long-winded messages. Figures–most farmers have notoriously bad texting skills; some even use punctuation and complete sentences. This may be an attempt to overcompensate and debunk the stereotype that farmers can’t spell or write, which is a real dumb stereotype considering sixty-three percent of new farmers are English majors trying to heal the land and grow organic produce.
But yesterday, for example, I received a beautifully-punctuated message. It was from Vernon Dedham, a local grain farmer, via text message. It had not a single emoticon. It said, “Mr. Bishop, please utilize your public platform, The Misfit Farmer Blog, to stop the scourge of barn outerwear, i.e. coats, given to agricultural producers during the season of Christmastide. My closet runneth over with new barn garments. Yours Truly, Vernon Dedham.”
If you’re under thirty, here’s what Vernon said translated to a proper text: FYI plz stop w/ barn coats cuz clos8 ful :). If you’re over thirty, you can text this to all the millennial gift-givers in your life to preemptively save closet space.
On behalf of Vernon and farmers everywhere, let me explain. Farmers don’t want a new barn coat for Christmas. The rips, grease stains, and built-in manure smell in our current barn coat might lead you to think that we need, and therefore want, a new barn coat. You might think a barn coat is the perfect gift. But every year farmers are just being polite and faking it when they open the jumbo shirt box, the one with this year’s new edition of a barn coat.
FARMER: (Feigning surprise) “Well looky here–a new barn coat!”
GIFT GIVER: “Try it on. Do you think it’ll fit?”
FARMER: (Putting it on for the first and last time) “I think it’ll work.”
The current barn coat is not worn out. It’s broke-in. And the warm embrace of a broke-in barn coat is hard to beat and only gets better with time. I’ve had my barn coat for nineteen years. It has patches, tears, grease stains, and my undying loyalty. I like it so much I’ve even washed it half-a-dozen times in nineteen years. Meanwhile, I have a closet full of brand new barn coats given as gifts, many I’ve only worn once when I was trying them on at Christmas. Eventually, they’ll go to Goodwill when my wife goes on one of her Maria Kondo organizing and decluttering binges.