Sunday, March 30, 2014

200 Years Of Farming

"One night in the winter of 1907, at what we have always called “the home place” in Henry County, Kentucky, my father, then six years old, sat with his older brother and listened as their parents spoke of the uses they would have for the money from their 1906 tobacco crop. The crop was to be sold at auction in Louisville on the next day.

They would have been sitting in the light of a kerosene lamp, close to the stove, warming themselves before bedtime. They were not wealthy people. I believe that the debt on their farm was not fully paid, there would have been interest to pay, there would have been other debts. The depression of the 1890s would have left them burdened.

Perhaps, after the income from the crop had paid their obligations, there would be some money that they could spend as they chose. At around two o’clock the next morning, my father was wakened by a horse’s shod hooves on the stones of the driveway. His father was leaving to catch the train to see the crop sold.

He came home that evening, as my father later would put it, “without a dime.” After the crop had paid its transportation to market and the commission on its sale, there was nothing left. Thus began my father’s lifelong advocacy, later my brother’s and my own, and now my daughter’s and my son’s, for small farmers and for land-conserving economies."
This was posted in Stock Talk.  I had some difficulty reading the entire attachment but I thought this farmer's reply was very good.
"Great read, many on here have said how GMO's are the saving grace to feeding the planet in the middle of this century. Well this just isn't true, they may have a role but land stewardship trumps all. Some how government scientists say we are doing better than 30 plus years ago.
Take look at old aerial maps and compare them to today. It really makes me sick, Livestock people, have been beat out by the grains being more profitable so many acres have been plowed up and farmed.  Land that used to be seeded down to grass only sees a bit of foxtail occasionally.  Land that I used to farm, the waterways have been reduced to small rises of grass with the water going down both sides of it.
Another field that I used to farm, when I had it, it had 8 waterways and now it has none. My son was the second highest bid on 400 acres of land. He missed it by 40000 bucks from a guy that comes from 30 miles away. He told me they {the landlord} are really loosing, dad I was going to put cover crops and really take care of the land. Based on what this guy has done to neighboring farms, I would not let him rent my garden.
Farming has changed, there are good crop growers but from the roads I drive down I don't see many good farmers. Some call it "just business", yes it is a business but it is national security when we can't feed ourselves. Look at chicken and to a slightly lesser extent hogs what the "industrialists" have done. I see school consolidation, terrible erosion, no dealerships around, neighbors who circle above like vultures waiting for a bit of gossip about someone being in a bind. I don't like it, I told my son we need to expand inward not outward."
That is an observation I understand from traveling Iowa the past 15 years.  It is our number one agricultural state in the Midwest but it too has problems.
When I look at my own family after over 200 years of farming in this country, I understand these struggles that is written down.  My own family line went from owners to tenants and now back to small farm owners again.
It's been a long hard, struggle.
Someone farmed this place before I got here and someone will farm it when I gone.  We are just the temporary stewards.
Ed Winkle


  1. Americans haven't gone hungry enough to care about farmers yet. They buy expensive frivolous stuff that no-one needs and gripe about the price of food.

  2. I've seen interest come and go but it wanes melancholy. There is more interest in what people eat today but much of it is misguided because most tests show all kinds of food in this country is "healthy."