When Jim Meredith was a child growing up on the outskirts of Muscatine, on a farm that has been in his family since 1857, there were really only two things he wanted to be.
“A farmer and a contractor, and those are the two things I’ve become,” the 70-year-old says with a hearty laugh. “So, I got lucky I guess.”
The two are similar in their focus and dexterous and physical nature, Meredith said.
“I love working with my hands, building stuff, and I love being out in nature, I love building something that wasn’t there before,” he said. “Farming isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle, and it’s one that I’ve enjoyed since I was growing up. I’ve been helping out on the farm since I was a kid and I’ve always loved it. I love raising the livestock and watching the crops grow and being a part of those things.”
Born in Davenport and moved to Muscatine when he was 7, Meredith has enjoyed a fortunate life, he says, guided by his moral compass and an innate drive to do the right thing.
“If there’s one thing I always strive to do it’s to do what I feel is fair and the right thing in my heart,” he said. “I really believe in honesty and integrity and good morals and standing up for what you believe is right.”
Along those lines, Meredith is a purist in terms of his farming. He raises his livestock naturally, drug-free and without chemicals and with natural feed, he said.
“You really have to care for your crops and animals, to me the words that always come to mind are honesty and integrity,” Meredith said.
In one respect, he also admits a bit of a partisanship in regard to those animals in his care.
“I don’t eat any of the animals I raise, I just take them to market and I drive away,” he said. “It would be like eating a pet. There’s just something there. I can’t do it.”
His entire life hasn’t been spent on the farm. He left Muscatine in 1987 for Dallas, where he worked as a contractor, building homes and restaurants.
“The thing with contracting for me was just being honest,” he said. “You have to be up front with people and tell them what you can and can’t do for them and if they do hire you, you do your best to give them what they want.”
Along those lines, he worked on custom furniture for residential dwellings and a host of radio and television stations.
“That was one of the really fun things, building for the stations,” Meredith said. “There were a lot of neat things that needed to be built and it was just different. It was fun. I loved making something that people could enjoy and use. It was great for me to see families using cabinets I’d made or to see something I built at the radio or television stations.”
Meredith is more than just a farmer and contractor though, he’s got some intriguing complexities to his career paths.
From 1990-2002 he studied neuro-linguistic programming in California, Texas and Hawaii and is a certified master practitioner and trainer of it. “It’s basically the study of how to use the conscious and unconscious mind to control your destiny,” Meredith said.
He’s also a certified hypnotherapist and instructor in hypnotherapy.
“I use it to help people alleviate phobias, anxieties and mental challenges,” Meredith said. “Usually when I tell people these things they’re kinda like, wow, they take a step back, they don’t expect it from someone like me, but really it’s nothing to be uncomfortable about. They’re both things I got into wanting to help people.”
That desire informs each step of his life, he says.
“I feel I’m living my life as best I can,” he said. “I’m just trying to be a really good citizen. I think that goes to the heart of the ethical, moral aspect of your life. Whether you’re a farmer, or a contractor, or a writer, I think that’s what you should always try to do.”