There’s one in every family. The in-law, the out-law, the diva girlfriend, the emo boyfriend, the Xbox junkie. They don’t “do” the farm thing. (Or forget “doing” the farm thing, they won’t even venture outdoors. Fresh air is overrated, and Green Acres is a fine, old sitcom, but best left on the small screen.)

If you don’t take action now, they may be lost forever to the Dark Side, or perhaps we should say Wan Side. It’s scary, but if you love them, if you’re willing to leave your comfort zone and confront their fault, you can help them start healing. You can nurture them back to farm life.

It’s time. It’s time for a farm intervention.

We get the calls all the time. “Help me! My daughter’s seeing a boy who thinks chocolate milk comes from brown cows!” or “I don’t know what to do! I love him so much, but my father keeps asking who John Deere is and when we’re going to return his tractor!”

If you don’t step in now, then next time you see your loved one will probably be in the ward at the Cedars Hospital. It’s that serious. He or she is in danger of losing direct contact with the real world, the natural environment.

A farming or horticultural intervention can be used for individuals engaged in any self-destructive, non-earthy behavior:

– a person who refuses to go outside;

– a person who doesn’t know how manure smells;

– a person who’s not sure if a sheep says “baa” or “oink”; or

– a person who thinks a pile of littered milk cartons is a cow’s nest.

A farm intervention is the most loving, powerful and successful method yet, for helping people overcome their fear of having dirt under their fingernails.

A farm intervention can be done with love and respect in a nonconfrontational manner, but you need to have your ducks in order before you surprise your loved one. What will the steps be to battle this sad behavior? Have a plan to start your family member or friend down the right path immediately. If the problem is acute, sometimes week-long inpatient care at the county fair is required.

Embrace the 4-H motto “Learn by Doing.” It will be foreign to them, but be gentle. Start with chores. They can be very simple, as basic as walking out of the house and onto the lawn. Baby steps. Baby steps. Then add a lesson on feeding the dog, or better yet, the pygmy goat, if you have one. Show them how, then make them do it. Stick to your guns. Do not enable the abnormal behavior. Come up with other, simple ways to get your loved one acclimated to the smell of manure and a pitchfork. To hard work.

Then gather your family members, rehearse what you’re going to say, and then stage your intervention. Choose your location carefully. We prefer to use a hay mow, but a cattle chute also works well. Make it be a surprise. Yes, ambush the person, if necessary. Write letters and have each individual read his letter to the loved one, to tell him how his farm ignorance is tearing the family apart. Clearly list the steps toward recovery. Your loved one may get angry or deny his problem, but be firm and treat him with dignity and respect. He may lash out, so we recommend wearing protective Carhartt overalls.

No matter what happens on intervention day, at least you’ve gotten the person’s attention.

You may never get them to the point where they can tube a calf, but you might be able to get them to pet a calf. Or at least a barn cat.

A farm intervention can be done. It can be done now.

And the world will be a better place.

Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell has been with the paper since 1985, serving as its editor since 1989. Raised on a farm in Holmes County, she is a graduate of Kent State University.
Susan Crowell
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