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Not All Deserve Farmer/Rancher Title

February 12, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis morning my attention landed on Facebook to an article my friend Anthony posted. Anthony has brought forth I Love Farmers They Feed My Soul, and the article is a year old but happens too often. People jump to assume it’s “factory farms” or “evil farmers” – but no farmer I know will lock up animals and walk away.

Many in city or urban areas think they’ve had a few chickens or cattle and it’s an easy way to make some money. It’s not – and we’re working towards expanding in stages to not be dependent on a system of credit. That said, any farmer I know – one who truly cares for their animals, would have put those birds on Craigslist for $5 each and sold out if s/he couldn’t feed them.

We have animals because we enjoy the interaction with them. They are an investment yes, but they’re an investment surrounded by things that can go wrong.

There’s tight times on most farms, at one time or another. Things are uncertain and decisions must be made – do we sell some to preserve the best? Do we sell out and come back another day? Can we weather the hard spots with adjustments? This is something that can be individual situations.

Many are removed enough that they don’t understand why we press now for Thanksgiving birds to be ordered….it’s months away. Those birds need to be bred, hatched, raised, slaughtered and delivered…and if things go well that’s a 7 month time frame, perhaps 8-9 months if there’s “speedbumps” (which there is bound to be!). Which means, yes, we’re thinking about that now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFarming is not something that is just a business, but it is a business. The animals must be tended to – that means cleaning cages, feeding, watering – daily. It’s not something that is natural to all. Connor hasn’t grown up around agriculture – if an animal has the water filled and a day and a half later he’s at the same level, he doesn’t think about that. Those who learn early know that if they don’t need refilled the animal hasn’t drank in 24 hours – they may be getting sick, there may be something wrong with the waterer, the water may be stale…many possibilities. Connor’s learning, and although he doesn’t plan to stick with agriculture those learning to pay attention to other things will make him a valued employee for someone else, no matter what he does.

He’s learned to put hands on an animal, not just look at a distance. When feed or water doesn’t change, when they haven’t moved for 3-4 hours, when there are minor things it can add up to bigger things. He’s learned that daily attention is possible, and without it he’ll lose animals. He’s not yet come to full realization what that financial obligation is.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe groans when sent back out again to FILL a waterer that will be out when he comes back. He used to get annoyed when we’d go to town and I’d insist everyone was FILLED before we left…so that if we got delayed no one was out of water.

It’s true that many animals don’t need feed 24/7. Our rabbits get too fat on free choice feed, but it doesn’t mean don’t feed at all! Daily feed and care is crucial to the farming operation. It’s not just a business, an investment but it’s also an obligation of time and a commitment to other living beings.

And what kind of person doesn’t keep their word to a chicken? A dog? A cow? There are alternatives to walking away…because that is not a farmer.

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