Carter's Life After the White House

When we finally arrived at the site, we found several hundred villagers assembled in the village square, with young men and women already costumed and dancing. We were guided to two large trees, where a small man, proudly dressed in a wrinkled suit and tie, was standing under one of the threes and holding a plaque designating him as the outstanding farmer of the year. After exchanging ceremonial honors with the village chief and other dignitaries, we were invited to the farmer's home for lunch, served by his wife and daughters. When we finished eating, I suggested that we proceed to some of his fields to observe his agricultural management techniques. The vehemence of his objections were surprising, with an emphasis on the need to go through his animal pen, the heat of the midday sun, the likelihood of getting my clothes dirty, and the distance to the growing crops.

Pointing out that I was a farmer myself, accustomed to livestock manure and dressed in my work clothes, I finally prevailed, and our small entourage moved toward his cultivated fields, with his wife walking behind us with Rosalynn. On the way, the farmer and I exchanged comments about his cattle, and he was quite knowledgeable about this phase of his enterprise. Since our G2000 programs were restricted to food grains, I was eager to reach his field of maize (corn), whose quality had earned his honors. We could all see that it was an outstanding crop, approaching any yield that I might realize on our farm in Georgia.

Mostly as a courtesy, I asked a series of questions: "How wide do you space your rows?" "What variety of maize did you choose?" "When did you apply the fertilizer, and what formula was used?" "Did you have any problem with insects?"

It quickly became obvious that our host knew nothing about the crop. Finally, he just turned to his wife, who provided all the answers. She was obviously the only farmer in the family, and she and the children had made all the decisions and done all the work, while her husband took care of the cattle?and the money when the crop was sold.

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