Friday, May 25, 2012

One Less Family Farm

Our community is rural.  We pride ourselves on our agricultural heritage.  So much so that when the local high school seniors had their last day of school on Thursday, they ended their senior walk of the school complex by posing with more than a handful of tractors in the school parking lot. All of which had been driven to school that day by members of the senior class. We are farmers.

However, as this week draws to a close, there is one less family farm in operation.  One more small farmer gone out of business.  He was a dairy farmer, operating the same family farm his father did, and his grandfather before that.  The date on the barn says 1913.

It was a small establishment, as dairy farms go these days; only sixty cows.  Enough to employ several workers, but not enough to be able to turn a consistent profit in these times.  Sadly, the farmer decided to auction off his sixty head, and all his machinery and milking equipment: several tractors, hay balers, hay rakes, hay wagons, manure spreader, silage chopper and silage wagons. . .  He is keeping the land, the house he's lived in all his life.  A neighbor with a much larger dairy farm is renting the fields, so at least those will stay productive and available to future generations of farmers.

He is going to take a 'real' job now, in his fifties.  A job where he is no longer the boss, a job where he has to report to someone else at specific times on specific days.  One where he will get a regular paycheck, where he can count on making money if he shows up to work, unlike farming.  It is, for his family, the end of an era.

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