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Rural matters

If you put 100 people in a room, chances are 80 of them had grandparents who were farmers or ranchers and maybe 30 of their parents were. (These are my “statistics” so accuracy is not guaranteed.) There would be a slim chance that even one of these 100 people is a farmer or rancher now. Each farmer raises enough to feed 166 other people annually with just 1 percent of Americans in production agriculture. Yet, there is a renewed sense of desire to get back to the land. Many people who have never set foot on a farm or ranch are getting the idea of an idyllic, easy life. Heck, on a ranch all you have to do is get up, saddle your horse, and ride. They watch too many movies.

Notice that many of the present generation, the ones farthest removed from the farms and ranches now are interested in agriculture. They are willing to lease instead of buy land, work a job or two in town, share crop, or whatever it takes to get started. Yes, they have fond memories of visiting the grandparents’ farms, but it is much more than that. This generation has realized that rural, and all that it entails, matters.

Only a country person can fully appreciate a homemade meal; not just home-cooked, but home raised. It can take at least 18 months to get that meal on the table, if you count the beef. A full summer is needed for the preparation of the sweet corn, tomatoes and watermelon that top off the meal. Maybe it’s the dirt under the fingernails that adds flavor, or the sweat from the brow; either way you look at it, anything you work for means more.

I have been corresponding with a city gal who is soon going to marry a dairy farmer. She is just beginning to get an idea of the complexities of farming. The more she learns the more questions she has for me, a recovering dairy farmer, turned farm wife. She has realized there are no eight-hour workdays on a farm and that farmers and ranchers have to be versatile. They have to be plumbers, electricians, mechanics, welders, and truck drivers. In addition, they are accountants, purchasing agents, scientists, animal specialists, and psychologists. The recitation could go on for several paragraphs. At least the constant changes keep things from getting boring. Couple the variations of the job with the fluctuations of the weather to which agriculture is so closely tied, and you have weekly, if not daily, puzzles.

This gal has seen that like any self-employed person, ranchers and farmers have to be self-starters. Some folks who punch a time clock frequently comment about how nice it must be to be self-employed, to take days off whenever the whim strikes. The truth is most self-employed people work longer and harder at their jobs than the general population, a truth my new friend is appreciating more and more.

Peggy writes at the family ranch when she is not going for parts, holding wrenches, or other versatile farmwife jobs. Comments can be directed to thankafarmer4food@yahoo.com. ❖


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