Wednesday, August 23, 2006

At The End Of The Day....

(These two posts were written a few days apart, at the end of July/first part of August. I am just now getting a little break between straw and hay making, to where I have time to publish them. I caution you that there are some long and rambling thoughts shared here, in case you decide to escape right now - grin. If you decide to forge ahead, I would love for you to email me personally with comments, or include them at the end of the post. I hope that if nothing else, you might think about and put a face to the people in our country who continue on day to day, farming and feeding and caring. I hope that the photos included in this post, all from our farm or my parents farm, will help you visualize the people behind the scenes. I hope that you might be moved to phone or write a congressman, senator or other local official in support of small farms - maybe visit the NoNais website and take a stand. I hope that you will consider always shopping locally, especially during Farm Market season or even do something like walk through the animal barns during your local 4-H fair...another long standing tradition that is in danger of being wiped out by urban sprawl)

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(Image of part of our farm fields)

It has been interesting to me (and I really enjoy) reading about modern day men and women (interestingly enough, it is mostly women!) who have longing and desire to leave the corporate or professional city life to live off the land. First generation farmers, if you will. Many of them did not have parents that farmed, though they may have had grandparents or more often aunts and uncles who did and they have strong, fond memories of times spent on the farm visiting in summer or holidays. They seem to have a strong, unexplainable and undeniable need to put down roots in some soil, raise a garden or crop and tend to animals. They write about this passionately and eloquently, usually after they have made the move but sometimes when they are still working towards it. Some of them have a large lot in the country, some have an acre or two, some actually have acreage. They are devoted and they are dedicated, eager and willing to learn farm life and farm ways, maybe changing them some to suit their own needs, but are respectful in those changes.

Some of my favorites? Susan at Farm Girl Fare; Apifera Farm; Old Shawl Farm - love the name! - and my hurricane surving friend Deborah and her family, as they work towards producing their own healthy food and lifestyle on their small plot of earth. I enjoy watching the journey of these internet co-workers and friends. Another wonderful site dedicated to small farms, with lots of links is I Heart Farms (be sure to check it out!)

They are NOT the flitty city dwellers who move to our farm neighborhoods with their dogs and cats that run loose and chase my sheep or pee in my flower bed; their whiney and demanding children who’s temper tantrums can be heard across the pasture or their teenagers with the loud music, sport vehicles, snowmobiles and fast cars that race up and down the road and through the hayfields and woodlot - endangering neighbors and animals alike (both physically and mentally!) These are not people who’s desire to escape town life for country living forgot to take into account that farm animals bring with them a certain odor and that farmers get up at the crack of dawn with tractors to go to the field....oh no, that wasn’t part of THEIR dream and they like to complain about it and generally make life miserable for MY dream ;/ And I am not talking about the ones who haven’t had enough sense to raise a poodle, yet suddenly become experts in livestock and livestock care and are certain that no one should ever, ever take the life of a poor animal and put it on their plate, God forbid!

No, I am talking about those around this country and even the world who are respectful of people and place, and making their own way as part of it. Of making a difference. I often hear farmers of my generation and older complain about these “wanna-be” farmers and it makes me mad. If we look back in our own family histories, those of us who consider ourselves traditional farm families, we don’t have to look very far to find an ancestor who decided to leave a settled, plotted life in the family business or away from everything they knew because they had a desire to work the land, to raise their own family somewhere new, to stake their claim. In a way, that is what these modern day, first generation farmers are in my mind, and we owe them a huge thank you and an offer to lend a helping hand in any way we can. They may very well be the salvation of the family farm, because they have not become complacent and accepting, as many of us have, about the way government and corporations and even those uninformed new neighbors from town are slowly but methodically doing away with our opportunity to do what we do to provide food for our own table as well as theirs.

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(The Round House, a former grainery, is a unique and special part of our farms history)

I am a Christian woman who believes that according to God’s Holy word I am to seek to live my life quietly and peacefully (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Most days I do that, without voicing the opinions rumbling around inside my head. Today is not one of those quiet days, and I wanted to share some of these thoughts that are bubbling around inside me. I hope you don’t mind.

I love farming. I love belonging to a farm family (the photo below is of my parents farm and flock of sheep, taken quite a few years ago). I wish everyone were able to share in it or at least understand a little part of it. I wish everyone could understand that this is not a job we can just walk away from - send out our resume and move up in the company. It is a job that is part of our living and breathing and dying. And I wish everyone could be just a little more thankful and a little more aware of what it takes to be a farmer, in this day and age more than any other)

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I am struck in recent days by the distance that continues to grow between food and the family plate. I am overwhelmed, some days, by the work it requires to just keep going on the farm, especially as I get older. I am discouraged and disheartened by the rules and regulations thought up for us by people who are even more far removed by the land and the work goes into maintaining it. My plan for future days is to change, somewhat, the direction of this blog. As much as I enjoy reading about first generation farmers, I find little on line about the daily work of long time farmers. I would like for this blog to touch on some of that life, some of those people, at least from the perspective of one. I hope you will continue to visit me while I do...

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(Making hay in the blistering summer heat. Food for the winter)

Now for some rest at The End Of The Day then on to Some Pasture Management and When It Gets Hot (and I promise my next post will have some neutral spinning/knitting content)....

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Denise said...

Oh Cary!

I am both the first and the last generation of farming in my family. I have yet to figure out how to bring a generational sense of what remains to my own family as we now reside in a postage stamp sized lot smack in the middle of suburban development.

But, see, it is people like you, hearlding the call, who give people like me encouragement. And, if I never make it back to the farm, at least I can live vicariously, and gratefully, through people like you.

Thank you for your post, your wisdom, and your fabulous pictures!

God bless you,

Cary said...

Denise, my friend, I firmly believe with all of my heart that you will make it back to the farm one may not be for a long while, but I know that you will be there again with maybe a few sheep, your Little Gem wheel and grandbabies around your knees ;)

Hugs, Cary

Deborah said...

I really enjoyed your farming posts! I would definitely be interested in more. I like seeing a nice balanced view about farming - the reality and the rewards. I'd like more detail in fact. For example, how many acres does it take to produce hay for your flocks? If someone wanted to pack it in and get some farm acreage, how many acres should they get? And yes, I would love to have a real farm one day, not just my little "homestead."

Dale said...

Cary, your choice of photos is wonderful. The very first picture invites the reader... it is like a promise of the good things that can happen there. Please keep up your efforts. I may have missed my chance to live the life you describe, but it is in my heart!

Eve said...

I really enjoyed ready your lastest posts... a peek into farm life even though I still can't see any of the photos. Whah!

Both of my grandfathers, Marcelino & Francisco, were farmers of a different sort because they lived on a tropical island and grew things such as bananas, coffee, mangos.... I can still smell the fresh roasted coffee beans... mmmmm!

When my Mom and Dad moved to the states, they left that life behind, my Dad happily so, but not Mom. She always crammed as much as possible into her city lot backyard and for many years, she was the only person I knew that actually grew and used cilantro.

I guess I inherited that 'farmer' gene, cause I also cram what I can into what space I have and have always dreamed of having livestock.

Unfortunately I'm allergic to hay and some animals and so have never had any. But, in our last home we had a berry business going and I loved it.

Ruben wants to move to where we have a little more space than our 2 town lots. I've convinced him we need to look for a space with some outbuilding and acreage.

If not, I will continue to 'farm' in my limited space and will have to figure out how to sneak in chickens and convince the town they are merely pets. *G*

Prayerful Knitter - Shelly said...


I love to read your writing. I could read it all day long.

Please continue your writing and blogging. I really wish that we were neighbors.