Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Life On The Farm Aint Never Laid Back!

The last few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride across the Midwest. Lately Ohio has been stuck on the backseat of that rollercoaster ride that never seems to end.

I enjoyed the recent three day holiday weekend by helping my dad plow snow and then power washing a finishing barn (thank God for enclosed barns and hot water washers).

I enjoy power washing because it gives me time to really think about what’s going on in my life and collect my thoughts for things like this blog. While power washing today, the song “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” by John Denver came into my mind. I know that sounds cliché because of my profession and heritage, but there was something about that song that seem to connect to another thought I’ve had lately.

Lately I’ve been looking at the progression agriculture has taken in the past two decades thanks to some advanced technology coming along. As an advocate for the pork industry, I spend a fair amount of time discussing how technology has created a new version of pig farming, what we know as “modern day farming” or “commercial farming” or even “factory farming”.

When I hear that famous song by John Denver, I can’t help but think what it would sound like if written for today’s farming industry. In this blog post I’m going to aim to point out the changes from when it was recorded to now and my next blog will be my version of the song for 2014(I may need to wash another barn and gather my lyrics!).

First, I’ll point out that the song assumes that if you live in the country, than you are a farmer. According to the USDA’s website, “Fewer than 2 percent of Americans farm for a living today, and only 17 percent of Americans now live in rural areas”. Which means that if you are reading this, and you are farming for a living, I want to thank you for your effort. To me, it’s a no brainer that consumers are becoming distant from the source of their food and I don’t believe that it is 100% agriculture’s fault for having a lack of transparency.

Next let’s talk about the “laid back farm life”. It takes months of preparation to raise a crop, provide superior care for livestock and handle the office work that goes along with being a self-employed farmer.

Being a farmer is a year round job that is never taken lightly. And I’m here to tell you that life on the farm is rarely “early to rise and early to the sack”. Usually it’s early to rise, and late to bed. That’s because we believe in a job well done and American farmers are committed to providing the best product they can for market, which means spending long hours caring for it.

As you go down through the lyrics you can see that some things remain true, no farmer would ever trade his farm or his job for “diamonds or jewels” and farmers are not often “money hungry fools”.  It takes years of hard work and Modest living to be able to create profits off the farm. Many times, farming is not the only occupation.

The song finishes by talking about the connection between father and son, and the heritage of the fiddle. This is so very true in my life today on the farm, dad has given me the things I need in order to be successful, or at least have a good start in life and it’s all because of the farm. Heritage plays a very big role in the farm life. Many times father and child will work together on the farm for years. I remember when I was young, I spent nearly every free minute I had on the farm or helping dad with livestock.

So today, as the weather begins to show snow across Ohio, I am grateful that I have been born and raised on the farm. The opportunity to be a farmer is one that I cherish and I hope that I can fit the role. I’m also glad that technology has created changes in agriculture, so that the farm life has become more management than hard labor, not because I’m lazy, but because it has created safeguards for the crops and livestock against disease, drought and other things that impact its yield. But most of all, I still thank God I’m a country boy!