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Thursday, April 16, 2015

#TBT The Changing Face of Farming


200 years ago my family was farming, but the farm looked much different from our family farm today.

Chickens scoured the yards and fields for something to eat and when a chicken was needed for dinner one was butchered.

A milk cow grazed the pasture during the day and was milked both morning and night to provide milk and butter for the family.

Pigs wallowed in mud outside the barn and provided pork, bacon and lard to cook with.

My great-great grandfather worked in the fields of Illinois raising crops to feed and sell to make a living for his family.

My ancestors did their own banking…in a mason jar in the back yard.

They did their own milling of their wheat and oats for flour on the table.

They did their own taxes, made their own clothes, probably built their own house,

Over the years our family farm has evolved.  In the early 1900’s my family moved to Kansas.  Somewhere along the line someone decided they were tired of milking a cow two times every day and that one of my farm mom’s before me could buy the milk and probably it was delivered to their doorstep. 

Chickens are not found on our farm today.  The coyotes and raccoons really like the taste of them.  I am guessing my ancestors also found it hard to keep a small flock of chickens.  Neighbors could raise bigger groups in open barns even back in the 1950’s.  The butchering process is often messy (I have heard and not witnessed).  It was easier to have the neighbor with all the right equipment take care of that job, so time could be freed up to go to the lake.

My family from my great grandfather to my father all raised pigs outside on dirt and in the weather.  Pigs were never my favorite.  I remember watching my dad’s fingernail grow back oh so slowly after a pig bit it off.  It is much easier to go to the store to buy the cuts of pork I do wish to eat when I want pork.

My farmer ancestors before me probably did their own taxes.  Today, things are so complicated that I am thankful for an accountant to take care of those matters for me.

My grandmothers made most of the clothes my mom and aunts wore growing up.  I have a quilt that used the scraps of those dresses and I used to love it when they would sit around and point at the patches telling me whose dress that was and how old they remember they were when they wore it.  I am guessing that your family history is much the same.  You may have to go back a few more generations than I did, but at one point in your family’s history it is highly likely that your family had a farmer.

Farms today did not become bigger overnight.  It has been an evolution since the beginning of farming.  Michael is better at growing pigs than Raymond.  Raymond doesn’t like growing pigs so sells the family farm and moves to town.  Michael raises a few more pigs to make up for the ones that Raymond no longer grows.  Raymond follows his dream of being an accountant.

Willis gets a job in town.  He no longer raises chickens for eggs.  Kim’s family loves to grow chickens and starts to grow enough for Willis, his family and maybe a few of their neighbors as well.  Thank goodness for Kim and farmers like her that raise and collect eggs, so Willis can follow his dreams.

Whitney has never loved the life of a dairy farmer, but was raised as one.  She leaves the family business to follow her dream as a cosmetologist in the city.  Who is going to provide milk to her and her family?  What about her neighbors?  Thank goodness Carrie loves her cows and will get up early, stay up late and give the cows the care they need, so Whitney can follow her dreams.

Brian grew up on a grain farm, but dreamed of living in the suburbs and working at a large financial institution.  Brian moves to the city, but now someone has to raise the corn, wheat, and oats that make up the foods on his breakfast table.  Randy has always loved living in the country and on a farm.  His family’s farm has slowly gotten bigger, because Brian and many others did not stay to keep their family’s farm going.  Thank goodness for people like Randy that Brian can follow his dreams, but still have food on the table everyday.

I have loved cows, since my first bottle calf.  Laura loves the cows, but has a goal in life to not raise cows, but write and educate producers about them.  Laura left the family ranch and now, someone must produce beef for her and take her place in the production of livestock

Michael, Kim, Carrie and Randy are all following their dreams, too.  They love the farm life and know it isn’t for everyone.  Farmers allow everyone in this great country called the United States to follow their dreams.  Those living off the farm average 45 minutes each week gathering the food for their dinner table at the grocery store compared to spending all available time years ago, because farmers across the globe work to produce the food for them the rest of the week.

Everyone in America has had a hand in the large scale farming operations we have today.  If you want to be a stay at home mom, you can and you don’t have to collect eggs, milk a cow and churn the butter for your family.  If you want to be an investment banker in New York City, you can and you can eat the finest steak with fresh asparagus on the side without having to get your hands dirty.  If you are living the American dream, thank a farmer and thank your ancestors.