Monday, January 7, 2013

Death and Tractors

I was going to name this Funeral but Death and Tractors came to mind.  We went to the city yesterday afternoon to be with my Winkle cousins for Aunt Jane's funeral.  The center of the message was giving.  Aunt Jane was a giver, a care giver and worker at church.  It was appropriate her funeral was held at the church of her adult life, the Montgomery Presbyterian Church on Zig Zag Road.  The road is well named.  It zigs and zags over Interstate 71 in Montgomery, near Blue Ash.

She was 7 years younger than dad and died 12 years later to the day.  They both lived good lives, all of the siblings lived good lives.  She took care of her husband Jim, then took care of the 3 sisters she lived with in Florida.  Then she cared for her daughter and grandson until they had to take care of her.  She ended up at Otterbein, the nicest nursing home around her last few years.

A farmer asked what tractor do you pull a 6 row corn planter with.  It was a lively discussion on Machinery Talk 2 days ago.  A younger friend wrote me this;  "Well, I don’t feel so alone!!  What is ironic is most of these guys are very smart folks and probably are more efficient/profitable per acre than the BTO’s!!  I am some what disappointed that they don’t come out of the woodwork too often.  I would much rather read posts about guys trying to figure out how to take 2013 technology and adapt it to work with simple older reliable equipment than to read 15 posts about which is the better semi to buy or where to find a chrome exhaust for brand new tractor or who makes the biggest bestus planter."

I am reminded that over 90% of the commodities are now produced by less than 10% of the farmers or farm operations.  We are in a minority within our own minority!  This even came up at dinner after the funeral.  My family doesn't care for big farms, GMO's or the lack of small, independent farms.  But that's the way it's went in America.  Big Agribusiness is big and we few small farmers left are truly a minority within our own minority.

My family often asks me what is going on in farming since I am the last one left of a long line of farmers.  Our oldest, Matt, is doing a little farming while teaching agricultural science but it's not enough to support his family.  The number of families left where all of the family work on that farm is very, very small.

One friend of the family told me her husband is actually afraid to eat the food available in America!  He thinks genetically modified food and spraying glyphosate on all of the crop ground is not good for America or our health.  Many people fit in that category but there is little they can do about it.  The love the advent of farmers markets and subscribing to a farmer to get their summer produce but that's very incidental still, compared to big agriculture and what we buy at the store and the restaurant.

Male, white, agriculture represents a dying breed!  I am one of them.  Will we survive?  Where will our food come from in just 90 years, the length of Aunt Jane's life?

Ed

6 comments:

  1. It is amazing the negative impact a large farm has on a neighborhood. Small farms work together, the buy and sell to each other, they trade work, they support local businesses, they hire kids from the local schools.
    They also can band together influence local and national politics. I don't see it with the huge farms.
    It is a different world now I suppose.
    I don't even attempt to talk people out of their GMO fears. I say support your local hippie farmer. One finds unlikely alliances.

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  2. I never thought of it that way but you are right. The bigger they are the more self sufficient they are around here. No wonder there are few fertilizer vendors and I have to drive 30-60 miles for parts.

    I do miss the local hardware store. We still have one in Lynchburg but when the owner quits that will be it.

    Ed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ed, interesting posts on what guys pull 6 row planters with. years ago ('70's) most here used jd 494 planters pulled with a mf 35 of ford 3000 or some guys even used a mg 165 but everybody wanted to keep weight and compaction down........now most 21 row guys are using 150+ hp and a tractor that weighs 17-18k and then in the fall pulls a big disk ripper...no till is going down , maybe because guys have lots of monet, big machinery and time now?regards-kevin in ontario

      Delete
    2. Ed, sorry didn't spell check-kevin

      Delete
  3. Kevin,

    I think we need to visit Dean Glenny's farm in the Hamilton area. I was impressed with his yields from 18 years of his fencerow farming notill technique. It includes 8 rows of corn beside 8 rows of soybeans across his fields planted the same day. Yields and soil health looks fantastic.

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