Who’s gonna fill their shoes?

They don’t make country music like they used to. That racket the new country radio stations are playing? I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t country. I’m not sure most of it is even music.

I’m grumping like an 80-year-old woman with a pipe and a rocking chair, babbling about the old days. But what happened to creative lyrics that told a real story? When did artists let go of the art of making music?

George Jones sang about it in Who’s gonna fill their shoes?

Who’s gonna fill their shoes
Who’s gonna stand that tall
Who’s gonna play the Opry
And the Wabash Cannonball
Who’s gonna give their heart and soul
To get to me and you
Lord I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes

And I got to wondering, who’s gonna fill the shoes and boots and lace-ups of the farmers and ranchers? While they may not be knocking on the blue-haired doors of nursing homes just yet, a lot of farmers and ranchers are on the downhill slide of life. Jesse Bussard touches on this topic of aging farmers and ranchers and young people wanting to get started in her Beef Producer blog “Future Ranchers Lack Keys: Land, Livestock and Money”.

Who is gonna fill their shoes? Is it you? If so, post a comment. Even if it’s just a short, “My name is Festus McGou, and I am [or hope to be] a pumpkin farmer.”

I don’t want folks saying they don’t make farmers and ranchers like they used to, because I don’t think that’s true. If your dream is production agriculture, then stand up and say so because there are those who need the camaraderie and others who need to hear their footprints won’t go unfilled.

Unfilled boots in northeast Oregon snow


  1. Erica, thanks for the shout-out and sharing my BP blog. You’re a good friend. I wish you were closer. Miss you, girl!

  2. My soon to be hubby and I raise pigs on the side but we want to be full time farmers someday soon. Since we are first generation farmers it is hard to start out, but it will be worth it someday when we have a farm or ranch to raise our kids on then pass down to them.

    • Love this, Sarah. It’s hard to start out, but when it’s what you really want to do, there’s really no other path to take. Thanks for sharing, and best wishes to you and soon to be hubby on your journey.

  3. I can’t agree with you more on, “Who’s gonna fill their shoes.” Both the George Jones version and yours. One thing that is often overlooked is the technological systems that have taken over farming and ranching. It does not have to be complicated. Keep it simple by working with nature. We need to understand how things worked for many thousands of years without man. When doing this we can use management, not high priced inputs that ony decrease profit. Production might go up with those inputs, but profit will not.
    Without expensive inputs and by relying on the natural world as a guide, young people can begin with less upfront investment.. Especially so if they can find a landowner to work with them.
    For more thoughts on our direction, please go to chiphines.com

  4. Just a quick note, my brother and I both returned to the farm in the last two years, to take the reins from our dad. Glad to be back with my brother so he can help share the responsibility and each can focus on our areas of interest and have a more profitable farm. Feel that both the dairy portion as well as the crop production can be improved with individual attention.

    • Thanks for sharing Theo, great to hear you’re back on the farm, working with family. Plenty of diversity with dairy and crops both on your plate.

  5. I totally enjoyed this post, lyrics by George Jones caught my attention more than anything. I am only 19, but I am in school working hard on my agriculture business/crop science degree so I can go home to Iowa and take over the family farm. I will only be farming row crop, but it is clearly very important for everyone. I’ve noticed not a lot of other females are in many of my agriculture classes. I guess farming may not seem like the ideal female occupation, but I am proud that I am going into a meaningful business. At Missouri State University they have the highest enrollment this year for Ag programs. Hopefully the numbers keep rising, and more youth take interest in Ag to fill those soon to be empty shoes.

  6. I agree! I love to listen to country music that was made back in the 90’s! The words really could put a beautiful picture in your head. Any more you have a little bit of every type of music put into one song. I think county needs to go back to the way it used to be 🙂 So I totally agree with ya on your feelings ! 🙂

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