It has struck me very recently how the family farm and the people that work it are so intertwined. There is a knowledge that has been accumulated over years of working with animals, land and weather that will never be learned in a school of higher education. It is akin to finishing your partners statements or reading the looks on your children’s faces. You know them so well that you can see what it takes to make the relationship work.
This holds so true for working a piece of land that has been with you for the better part of your life. You become attune to intricacies of your farm and the weather of the season. The familiarity of it and the life of the farmer has a strong connection. It is important, of course that with this connection we do not abuse the animals and the land. It is our responsibility to hold stewardship over it and leave in the best of shape for the next generation. The dedication to a family farm is not a 9-5 job . It is a lifestyle! Working family farmers do not have business hours, free weekends, paid vacations, sabbaticals and retirement funds, there is no professional status. Not once have we ever said Thank God It’s Friday! If this sounds the least bit negative, let me correct myself. Our love of what we do mostly outweighs the so called “perks” of a “job”.
After following a farmer hubby for 30+ years, I can safely say I have learned an immense amount and am continuing so. I have come up with some idealistic views(with my infinite wisdom lol) of how I see the farm moving forward and with my determined nature(some would say full on stubbornness) it takes many challenging conversations as to why it won’t work. My husband is realistic. No dear, you can’t leave the chickens out in wet cold weather! They have to be warm and dry in order to thrive. He has repeatedly gone through the seasons performing tasks that are inevitable each year. Calves will be born, hay must be cut and stored, land fertilized, pig pens reinforced, brooder barns prepared for chicks, outdoor chicken pens fortified and a million more jobs. Through years of repetition and learning from his father and other like minded farmers, he has a skill set I for one could never catch up to (not for lack of trying). The intimacy that comes with maintaining a family farm is just that. You know it like the back of your hand. It is your life. The relation between family and farm should be one that is cared for properly by a family. Family farming and good farming should be one and the same. It should mean that land that is in our use should be lovingly used, it requires intimate knowledge attention and care.
The holding of a good farmer is that of a good craftsperson. It gives the work a quality non comparable to mass produced goods. The people who have had direct contact in making from start to finish have a sense of pride that goes without saying. A poor product will put the small business out of business. Mass production provides a cheap product, but also a lesser product. Products that are typically of poor nutritional value . It affects our lives from health to environment in all ways.Our land and food is overrun with chemical residue. What are we teaching our children when we choose to consume on a level that will harm their future? I am a happy person when I see parents working with their children at growing food, helping feed a backyard flock and helping to cook a meal in the kitchen. I also realize that can be a more expensive path to go, but do we realize how much we are spending on environmental degradation and health care costs.
I for one have faith in the little guy!I see more and more people who see the changes that need to happen and try to participate, no matter how big or small. They do it for their children and grandchildren!