Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Simple Yet Complex - The agrarian Life

It may seem strange, but the simple life is an extremely complex life. The world of a family farmer is one almost unexplainable to the nonfarmer. I will do my best to explain though.

When city folk ask "what do you do for a living?" they usually all have the same look on there faces when I tell them I'm a farmer. They tend to view the world of agriculture as simplistic vocation, one that a person chooses because they are to dumb to do anything else. In my case, I could have done or been anything I wanted. I chose this way of life. If one is getting into agriculture with the idea that they will plant a few seeds, milk a cow and lay under a shade tree sippin' moonshine all day, they have a wake up call comming. Don't get me wrong, I lay under shade trees from time to time and have been known to tip back the jug. What I'm trying to get across here is that living the simple life means doing away with specialization and that makes you a busy man.The wanabe agrarian should consider this quote by Robert Heinlein.

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnett, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Here are a few things a family farmer has to be for example. My job description looks like this.......Plumber, welder, diesel mechanic, electrician, large and small animal vet, bookkeeper, horticulturist, tree surgeon, quality control inspector, and the list goes on and on. All the little details of farming are also complex. The way plants grow or the digestive system of a cow for example are very complex. We must understand all the intricate details to make a living with God's raw creation. These are things learned by experience. This is one good reason to start small. Don't overwhelm yourself with half a dozen projects that are new to you. Read, always read but also find people who have experience who can help you learn. This countryside of ours is full of old men and women that our generation ignores. They hold the knowledge of the land and how to work it well. We must unite those with knowledge with those who want so desperately to learn. I am amused ,to some extent, that a lot of what sustainable agriculture is coming up with is stuff my greatgrandfather knew many years ago. The older folks also had some bad practices as well. That is why we need to reclaim the good ideas from the past but never be afraid to adopt new ideas that make sense.

6 Comments:

At 7/06/2005 1:44 PM, Blogger Matt said...

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, ..."

I guess in your case, 'should be able' is the operative phrase. Provided that you're human of course.

 
At 7/06/2005 2:59 PM, Blogger buie said...

Someday I'll have that too. Someday soon.

 
At 7/06/2005 4:50 PM, Blogger KSmilkmaid said...

"Here are a few things a family farmer has to be for example. My job description looks like this.......Plumber, welder, diesel mechanic, electrician, large and small animal vet, bookkeeper, horticulturist, tree surgeon, quality control inspector, and the list goes on and on. All the little details of farming are also complex. The way plants grow or the digestive system of a cow for example are very complex. We must understand all the intricate details to make a living with God's raw creation."

This is precisely why farming is a wonderful classroom for the homeschooled child. You don't have to go far to get a diverse education. When we say farming is our classroom, some give us that same look. You mean they don't get math. How about figuring out the estrus cycle of a cow? Math. How about calculating how many fence posts you need to fence in those bovines? Math. How about keeping track of all the products sold to customers to pay dear old Uncle Sam? Math again. There is so much more. Praise God for the diverse complex and sometimes challenging aspects of agriculture!!

 
At 7/06/2005 4:52 PM, Blogger buie said...

Praise God, indeed!

 
At 7/06/2005 6:35 PM, Blogger Herrick Kimball said...

And I'll add an "Amen" to that.

 
At 2/03/2006 2:45 PM, Blogger theproprietor said...

I’m a staunch supporter of the family farmer, and I imagine you are, too.

Below is a piece I wrote about farmers. If you like it or would like to share it, publish it or broadcast it with those you know, feel free to do so. Just be sure to include the entire text of the piece. Thanks!

FARMERS AREN’T STUPID

I have a friend who designs web sites for the agri-tourism industry. “Web sites for what?” you ask. The agri-tourism industry: “agriculture” plus “tourism” equals “agri-tourism.”

You see, in order to stay afloat financially, many family farmers have been forced to find new ways to generate income. The traditional ways of family farming just don’t generate enough income. Those who live close enough to a large city-slicker population are turning to agri-tourism, a concept that involves farmers inviting city-slickers to spend a day – or just a few hours – on a working farm.

Now, contrary to what some people might think, two things are undeniably true about the vast majority of people who call themselves family farmers: They are not stupid, and they are not lazy. Let’s look at each of these statements:

First, farmers are not stupid. Their research tells them that the vast majority of people in America today are growing up without ever having set foot on a real, working farm. They also know that the average city-slicker parents of small children would love to pull their kids away from the video game screen and give them an opportunity to experience something as wholesome as a day in the life of a working farm. Think “Reality TV” without the TV – which is just reality.

Second, farmers are not lazy. Some people have the impression that farmers plant in the fall, harvest in the spring and summer and sit around collecting subsidy payments the rest of the year. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Most of ‘em work from well before sunrise to well after sunset – holidays included. Enough said.

Now, when you combine “farmers are not stupid” with “farmers are not lazy,” you find out why agri-tourism works: It allows farmers to make money coming and going:

First, they charge admission;

Second, they “let” others do the work of harvesting whatever fruits or vegetables happen to be in season; and,

Finally, they charge their “workers” – by the pound, usually – for whatever they pick and send them home. No paycheck. No benefits. Just a smile.

No, farmers are not stupid, and farmers are not lazy.

 

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