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Honored Advisor

Two down, three to go!

Finding a replacement for our former hired man has been a real tribulation for our family this week. First hiree skipped out to the beach, which we would have forgiven, if not for him lying and then playing footsie about his on-duty date. Daughter had had him work in hay the ladt year or so, and really thought he was reluable...she was really let down when he lied to her again last night on the phone. She told him he obviously didn't need the job, and we certainly didn't need him.

In between his going MIA and being DQed, we gave a trial to a young man who was brought by one of the drivers who haul pigs here. Pitiful case...buffed up and had the energy to get up and jog before work, and again afterwards...but, had asthma attacks on work exertion, and a total ick issue. Terrified of bugs and no stomach for manure. So, why take a job where there are 12,000 pigs to tend to and 35 horses to cleanup behind every day?

Mike gave him almost three days of trial, before cutting the cord. Daughter got busy last night, called around and found three referrals. The first did a workng interview today. We have decided to pay each one for a few hours, and let her run them through the paces. We are hoping that the decision will be made by Monday night, if not sooner. .

This has been an exhausting week for eveyone here. Poor Winn started barking with the croup in the night, so had to visit his doctor this morning. At least the two of us got a long nap together this afternoon.

Best Fether's Day Mike could get this year will be our daughter hiring her helper. I think her holding out forbher helper was a big mistake, in retrospect, and she had to realize that, so we could move ob. this rough week is a good bad experience fir us to have...especiallly her. i think it is finally sinking in on her that not every 18-year-old kid is like our kids were at that age. Jst because she did this job at that age, does not mean anyne else will....

Are we the only ones having a hard time finding good, reliable help on the farm?
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9 Replies
Advisor

Re: Two down, three to go!

And this is why we do not farrow sows anymore.   I had 6 months advance of when my last help was leaving for the army.   I begged and pleaded with 15 and 16 year olds trying to get one to even think about it.   The ick factor,  the smell factor,   having to commit to being at work on time every work day is just too hard.     They have to:  go to the beach,  go fishing,  go horseback riding,  go on dates,  hit every weekend community celebration.   They don't have time for sports.   I always prefered football players.  They weren't afraid of sweat, dirt or hard work.    Work ethic is the BIG FACTOR now days.  

We harvested crops with:  retired airline pilot/75, old employee who is on disablity  but can drive the tractor.  a neighbor that just likes to help out a day or two,  and sometimes an old parttime teenager... now a 26 year old mother.   Our son tries to get home to help some but he has a full time job.  Daughter has her own farm, job and daughter to deal with.     Our daughter has to find truckers to haul weaned pigs to farms.   She  is constantly looking for  current CDL's.   When unemployment was high in their area they  were able to find some.  Now....?????  

For this summer we have a 15 year old  helping Tom with his projects.    The newness has worn off.  And he is just not physically able to do some of the work.  Luckily no hay baling.    This week  we've had to learn about SLEEP.  Told him he needs more sleep when working than when going to school.   You have to be alert when at work.    He is only 15 and wants to work,  the check is not that important.  I think he is saving it to buy a pickup for when he turns 16.  Unfortunately,  his father has a job on the other side of Illinois so his family is leaving in August.  

Doesn't seem to matter where you live in this country.   Physical, dirty work  is not what  too many Americans are willing to do. 

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Honored Advisor

Re: Two down, three to go!

Three down, two to go tonight. Third guy turned out oky, but id not o great job pressure washing. He is aposdibility, 39, laid off from hisladt real job for four years...what's up with that? We think he ouod work a while, then find a way to get fired, to draw another year of unemployment.

Daughter has fourth guy lined up to work with her tomorrow moning, probably wash with Mike's supervision in the afternoon. We will pay them comparable to the level they will receive if thy re hired, depending upon hther they want the triler residence and expenses paid or not...the differential is $75 a week more to live on their own.

We would really rather have someone who lives here...harder to go MIA, be late for work, take sick days and then play, etc. lunch break is not a big delayed deal, either.

A teenager under18 really cannot work here...unless they are family members. I compared our pat scale with a friend in your Midwest region in messages last night. Given residence and expenses paid as equal, we pay nearly double.

I am most hopeful about the guy set up o do acworking interview on Monday...has hig eperience, wants to live here. Still, I havevtold Mike tonight it is their decision, just get the W-4 filled out, and tell me when to cut a pacheck. For now, each one is getting hourly wges, cash in hand, as day labor.
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Senior Advisor

Re: Two down, three to go!

This thread is the perfect example of why farmers are eager to substitute capital for labor.  Round balers had immediate acceptance as smaller farm families found it a way to get hay baled when teen aged boys got difficult to find.  Robot tractors will be all the rage as soon as they are feasible.

 

At one time, it would have been thought that milking took a human being.  Now, we all see robo milkers coming along.  It will go that way for evertying as time and technology permit.  The money?  We'll find the money.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Two down, three to go!

Believe me, if I could find a really useful robo-pressure washer, I would have already bought one.  The one we saw at a hog industry trade show maybe 15 years ago required a labor-intensive pass through every building, disconnecting all the waterer drop lines and feed drops, and a reverse pass to re-fasten eveyrything again.  There was still an issue with the computer control board and heater in the middle of every building.  We would need a robo-vaccinator, too. 

 

That does nothing to address pulling out the sick and loadins/loadouts.   This is still labor-intensive work, and I see no truly quick way around that , for any amount of money.   Someone has to put their eyes on the animals daily, make sure feed isn't bridged up anywhere, no water lines stopped, medications administered, etc. 

 

Beyond that, there is reading a dozen fdeed tanks twice weekly, and factoring forward porjected consumption for the advance orders, or several different rations.  Waste management is another whole side, even down to the disposal of mortalities.  For us, that involves co-composting horse barn litter with the carcasses, noting internal temprature of the rotary drum., and moving composted material to the secondary bins for eentual land application. 

 

The good thing about offering this job is that we can say it is steady work, salaried, where a good worker can finish in under 40 hours, step back into a comfortable, modern mobile home, have zero commuting expense, and no household bills,beyound food and clothing.  We cannot tell them it is a cushy job, because it is dirty, demanding work.   

 

We have two more of what we are calling "paid working interviews" to go.  I am very hopeful that at least one of them will be permanently employed.  If I could have spared Mike the dismay of not having a helper for the past week, I would have written the check. 

 

This is the crucial part of ag that is so dependent largely upon an immigrant workforce.  Picking produce and berries, taking care of animals and poultry, is all necessary and time-sensitive.  Hopefully, our nation will give up it's don't ask don't tell stance, and treat both employers and employees with consideration in the future. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Two down, three to go!

You have described the work on animal farms very well. It is dirty hot work. Something the public never will or can understand. They don't really want to know where their food comes from for the most part.

 

I did just read an article that there is more interest in CSA vegetables direct from farms and farmers markets are increasing every year.

 

That said, we were just discussing the farmers market where we sell. It is a old established one but in the past five years it has become something very different. There is no longer the established customers, the seniors who know what fresh food is or many mature people who enjoyed the market and bought foods for the week.

 

Those in charge have turned it into an outing for young couples with strollers, young dating couples and singles. It is now place to walk and meet up and eat. There are several stalls selling good food and even tables to eat at.  They will buy something for one meal. I think the largest problem is not enough parking and of course the changes in eating habits.   

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Honored Advisor

Re: Two down, three to go!

Farm work to me is less of an undesireable job than the thought of being in a steamy, greasy fastfood joint kitchen, with vats of deep frying going off on bells.  Even that beats having to pacify customers.

 

Dealing with the public is the thing I always hated most about teaching.  If a kid was okay, their parents were usally reasonable.  If not, all bets were off; but, you could be sure the parents did not see that they had any part in the solution, if not in the problem itself.  I just like pigs better than people. 

 

The changes you are noting in the farmers; market scene are due to the hype about local foods.  Whether that Yuppie element sticks with it longterm is doubtful.  Maybe some will actually become fresh food home cooks.  Most will likely not, and eventually a new fad will arise.  

 

For now, it sounds like THE place to see and be seen.  I just hope the core buyers stay with the market through this trend,  so they will be there when the mood of the new customers changes. 

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Honored Advisor

Re: Two down, three to go!

Second guy of the three scheduled to do a working interview showed yesterday, but was not prepared to stay for several hours to try out the job,  We gave the benefit of the doubt to him, due to his contact being through a third party, and some translation needed.  He is due back tomorrow. 

 

Second working interview set for eight this morning, is seriously late, not yet arrived, and it is after 8:30.  His chances are shifting from slim to none in a few minutes. 

 

Meanwhile, we have had to call in professional exterminators to kill off what is a serious bug infestation in the employee's trailer.  How does a family live like that and not say anything? 

 

I am headed to shop vac up the dead and dying buggers.  This is a daily task we didn't need added to a killer week.  Winn is still sick, headed back to the doctor this morning, so we made his Mama take that trip, instead of sending me with SIL. 

 

Just another day in Paradise.   These people who think they want to farm need otospend a day or two in our muchboots, don't they? 

 

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Two down, three to go!

My  motto has been "I would rather scoop manure, than go grocery shopping"!!! I have ran my own farrowing unit (20 sows), castrated pigs with neighborhood boys having to go outside to vomit!   Power washed my own barn, gave shots/weaned/hauled,  baled hay, pulled calves, etc.  I wasn't really one that had to do any field work other than haul grain in from the field.  I did field cultivate once I guess.  Would much rather be outside on the farm doing anything than sitting at this desk inside day after day. Kids are into instant gratification these days.  Our hired man is at least 70 years old.   

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Honored Advisor

Re: Two down, three to go!

Well, teh 18- and 20-year-olds both washed themselves out last week.  We ahd a "maybe" adult on Friday.  Second adult is more than two hours late for workign interview, so Mike has texted me to send him away, if eh ever manages to show up at all. 

 

I get to sit and watch out the office window...cannot do any of the planned chores this morning.  Winn is on his way back from pediatrician with a seriously bad sinus infection and high fever. 

 

Mike is out of his frame over teh guy not being on time.  That is one thing any idiot can manage, you know? 

 

Can someone tell me why waiting is always women's work????

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