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Advisor

Re: My two cents worth

2- 70,000 incomes in rural kansas?? Holy crap! the govt. must love you to death!

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Advisor

Re: My two cents worth

good call , don. My dad milked 'til i was a freshman, i just quit hogs 2 years ago.   I still farrow 2-4 litters per year for "locker pigs". just a hobby,tho. I've advanced past the whippersnapper stage.

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Honored Advisor

Re: We're all getting old...but too old?

A local antiques mall posted a photo of a tobacco basket yesterday on Facebook. A friend asked a question about it, which I answered, and she posted questions back. I gave a brief explanation of putting in and curing flue-cured tobacco, in mule days.

Neither of my sisters, who are 5 and 9 years younger, would have been able to give any of that explanation. We are the same generation of our family, but not at all in terms of our overall experience of farming.

i could give similar explanations about shocking peanuts and thrashing them at one location in the barnyard, rather than by combine traveling and harvesting windrows in the field. I would be the only one who saw croaker sacks filled on the platform scales every farm had, and then the bags stitched shut by hand.

Mules were worked, but within that five-year interval, retired to live out their days on pasture. Hog killings were at home, not a locker plant. The meat was salted and smoked...the only lock on the whole place was on the smokehouse door.

Hogs wallowed in low land not fit ti till...which is highly-protected riparian setbacks today. Farrowing went indoors first, with other stages of growth protected pretty rapidly after that.

I could give a thousand changes between my childhood and theirs...and, we are the same generation. The differences between my childhood farm and the one we reared our three kids on are astounding, really.

The rate of change has been accelerating ever since. If I start listing the ones inside the farmhouse, it sounds like science fiction come true. Hope I am around another forty years of farming...I'd like to see how this story turns out!

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Senior Contributor

Re: We're all getting old...but too old?

Kay has flue cured changed much over the years. We raised burley. It was all hand work. Still is as far as I know.
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Honored Advisor

Re: We're all getting old...but too old?

Tremendously. We stopped raising it in the eighties, while it was still all independent, mostly smaller acreages. Fnding local labor on such a seasonal basis just got too difficult.

Migrant workers, mostly Mexicans, started coming in on H2-a visas, which necessitated larger acreages to justify for pay plus housing costs. Things advanced from naturally- ripened to chemically- ripened, to accommodate greater mechanization.

Each leaf used to be handled many times by hands...progressing to fewer and fewer times it was touched. We went from hand looping leaves in small three-leaf bunches to machine sewing them onto the sticks, to bulk barn racks. Now, they are cured in boxes.

I have once or twice worked in a wood-fired barn, with brick burners, when frost was coming and that was the last option to save the crop. That was my grandfather's log barn. Most barns used oil burners, then LP table burners, all in the old tyoical wooden barn with asphalt paper sides. Those got retrofitted with vent-a-ridges in the sixties. That was followed by compact metal rack barns with forced air heaters and ventilation.

Most tobacco is contracted now, at least around our parts of VA and NC. I do not know but one or two families personally left growing it anymore. Sort of similar to the integration and specialization in hogs.

Yes, it was very hard work. I was put to the handing of leaves 5 to 6 days a week as a child, and had to start topping and suckering when I got tall enough to reach, probably around twelve. Learned to tractor drive pulling sleighs up the fifth middle at about the same age of five or six, and hauled sleighs between fields and the barns as a " tween".

Nothing like having to get up at four, to take out two barns, stopping for breakfast and hog work, then putting in two barns the same day. I had a school principal once, when I was teaching, refer to me as " the daughter of one of the county's biggest farmers", like that meant I was a child out of the lap of luxury. I responded, " Yes, Daddy worked us from five to nine."

The third person in the conversation said something about working four hours a day not being so bad. I chimed up, "No, I mean five A.M. to nine P.M...more like sixteen!"


Guess we didn't know anything different...it was just our family's way. Also, it is why I haven't felt so bad about not being a nine-to-five worker most of my life.
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Senior Advisor

Re: We're all getting old...but too old?

I belive that when labor was plentiful and money was short, we tried to make more money from each acre.  We worked a lot of small enterprises.  We knew every foot of our farm because we walked it.  I don't have any fond recollections of all the shoveling I did grinding feed or hauling manure.  I dont' remember fondly thawing a waterer when it was below zero and the wind was blowing.  But, I think for the most part we took better care of the land because we knew it better and because we often used small enterprises rather than force some operation on ground that was better used some other way.

I have no illusions that the old general farm will come back.  It was labor intensive, was great for big families but not start ups, and had a low cash flow.  No woman I know would marry a farmer and take on the life that our mothers and grandmothers took for granted.

So, I guess the small farm, small farmer solution to environmental management is no available.  That means the government will start passing laws.

Some will be administrative, like the EPA trying to define every waterway and ditch as part of the waters of the U.S.   I figure I have another 5-10 years of farming and am not unhappy about not having to face what I expect to be an increasingly proscribed and regulated profession.

The way of life has become a business.

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Honored Advisor

Re: We're all getting old...but too old?

Jim, you are very on-point about the coming onslaught of regulation. It is here in the NC hog industry, in row crop setbacks and nutrient limits of the Neuse Rules, and zoning in most counties. It isn't going to be much fun, true.

I purposely didn't mention the female side of the equation, because I sometimes wonder of it is welcome here. Outside of the radical homemaker/ Mother Earth movement, I do doubt that many male farmers would find willing helpmates. There are simply more choices available to women now.

I spent most of my afternoon today spiffing up the wood cookstove's nickel trim and cobalt blue paint job. It would take another half- day to get it perfect, and I have given up on perfection.

How a woman did laundry by hand, ironed with those heavy flatirons, made the soap and totes the water from a pitcher pump, heating it on one of these, is beyond me.

Throw in sewing family clothing by hand, quilting, and having to raise virtually everything everyone ate...it was pure dridgery...and yet, they made it into an art.

Have been thinking about starting a new kind of agritourism operation: one that takes the participant back in time. Do I choose 1950, 1900, or 1850? We have the mules, that stove is a 1905 patent, and honestly, the further back you go, the simpler it gets. Think anyone would show up?
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Contributor

Re: My two cents worth

Really - 2 $70,000.00 off farm jobs --  can I re- locate to rural KS and find same employment?? Am a dairyfarmer and have NEVER earned that much personal income. Debt free farming will never happen for us.

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Senior Contributor

Re: We're all getting old...but too old?

They already have something like that in Iowa. It is called Living History Farms. Haven't been there yet. Since I go to DesMoines for business, never seem to find the time to spend there, or at least the respectable amount. I think you can google it to find more info.

 

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Honored Advisor

Re: We're all getting old...but too old?

Thanks for the link. I enjoyed seeing the site...that looks like a public museum setup. I guess our recent trip to the Nataional Museum of the Civil War Soldier, which is just a few miles from Mike's farm and our scond hime in Virginia, had me thinking in terms of farming and farmstead history.
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