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editorial

A farm tale


July 31, 2013

Recently at The River Reporter we came across this blog entry from www.rurallifewife.com, and it got us thinking about the nature of farm life.

“The kids and I got up bright and early yesterday morning,” the rural life wife writes, “to take our pig to the butcher. The kids… named her Lula when we got her. After that, they fed and watered her just like they do the roping steers. There was absolutely no attachment or ‘pet-ification’ involved in owning Lula… On the way to the butcher, Makenna made up a song to help Josie understand what was going on.

“Ohhhhh, Lula is a pig. She is going to make some great bacon. We will even have ham for Degnan. I don’t like ham but he does. Mom will make biscuits and gravy with her sausage. Ohhhhh, Lula is going to die so we can eaaaaat!”

This blog posting got us wondering what people who have no connection to farm life would make of this story. Some will find the children’s attitude callous; but real farm life is often deadly serious—a farm animal dies giving birth, a marauding fox wipes out the henhouse, a flooded stream carries away everything you planted in that field of rich bottomland, an early freeze wipes out your entire apple crop for the year. Farming is not easy, but it’s a way of life, practiced by strong, hard-working, self-sufficient, proud people. And without them, where would we be?

Farmers deserve our respect and admiration, and they get too little of it. Why? Because the vast majority of consumers are disconnected from farms and farmers, who are the source of all of our food. Why should they care about what happens to farmers, if they don’t know any or understand something about life on a farm?

Some years ago at the daily afternoon milking demonstration at the Wayne County (PA) Fair a woman from the big city was sitting in the bleachers watching with a frown on her face as a dairy farmer attached a milking machine to a cow’s udders and milked the cow. Finally, when the demonstration was over, she remarked (with some agitation), “That must really hurt the cow; I’m never going to drink milk again.” You may laugh; we did. But what that woman didn’t know—what most people in dairy farm country do know—is that not milking a lactating cow is what is painful for her.