Saturday, October 25, 2014

5.25 Courage - The American Farmer

Bestest Friend and I are in the middle of a blog project. Each day of the month we will post a picture on a pre-determined theme and write a little something about it. The theme for the twenty-fifth day of each month is "Courage."
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Today was a celebration of the American farmer. We started the day at the Farmers’ Market where I lusted after honey and eggs from organically fed, free range chickens.
Then we were off to more agricultural tourism with a trip to a working farm where I dreamed about owning a pet goat and pet pig and finished off with hours wandering about a corn maze. It’s sort of a traditional October weekend day for us.

Along the way , I learned some things. 97% of farms in the United States are family farms – not the factory farms I always think of when I think about the meat, poultry, and produce in our grocery stores.  But farm and ranch families make up less than 2% of the total population of the country.   Since the early 1980s, most farmers and ranchers have taken a “pay cut” of about 50%.  They feed this country, but because of production and labor costs, their take home pay shrinks every year.

I don’t want to get all preachy here. I know that there are bad farms out there where horrific abuse is done to animals in the name of meeting quotas and keeping food costs low. But most of the farmers I know are hardworking men and women who keep busy every second of every day while they deal with constant worries about droughts, floods, and blights. They take on crappy second jobs in the “off season” working in restaurant kitchens, doing the books for co-ops and other small businesses, and pushing mops.  They take out loans to buy a few acres of land here and there and hope that at the end of the growing season they have enough left over to feed and shelter themselves over the winter and have enough to replant in the spring. 

And they feed us.  If you get a chance to thank a farmer sometimes, you really should. They work hard for all of us.
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 To see what Bestest Friend wrote about the theme of the day, check out her blog, Too Legit to Quit.

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