If you have any romantic notions about country living, I am here to dispel them for you. Living in the country sucks… a lot. I should know, I spent 19 years experiencing it first hand. I learned two very important things while living here. A) That you can blow stop signs at 120 MPH only when the corn in the corn fields is under your sight line and B) cows deserve to be eaten.
I am at my parents’ house this weekend. My first visit back since the accident. My father’s hand is healing slowly but healing nonetheless, thank you for asking.
My parents are not farmers, but, when I was quite young, they made the choice to leave the more urban landscape of commuting distance from NYC to come live in the rural supposed bliss of farm country Ohio. Somehow I think I got the shaft on this move.
I grew up going to school with farm hands and 4-H members. Future Farmers of America was (and is) still an active club at my high school. The county fair really was about who raised the biggest pig and the tears that came after because you did not.
Growing up among farmers teaches you a few things about gardening and growing things. Most of those lessons have to do with how easily things don’t grow, no matter how much money you spend or how long you have been growing things or how much you really need them too grow. I saw more than one rainy spring or dry summer ruin a crop for the year. I have seen more than a few farms close their doors forever because there was just one too many seasons like that. Gardening as a hobby is fun. Gardening for a living is a little scary.
Growing up among farmers has also shaped many of my views on organic and non-organic growing. There are things you can do (and should) on a small scale in a home garden that just are not monetarily feasible in a large scale farming operation. Compost is always one of the first to come to mind. Looking out over a full sized Ohio corn field (which is just a spit on the ground compared to a Nebraska corn field), I cannot even imagine how you would spread compost over that much ground and where that much compost would come from to begin with.
That, combined with the fact that most farms in the US are not growing direct to consumer food products, unless we start eating organically fed meat, buying organically made plastics and using organically enriched gasoline, your average farmer has very little incentive to grow organically. Their profit margin is slim as it is and a farmer selling ethanol corn will not be doing so for long if he can’t compete price wise.
Along comes GM corn which greatly reduces the need for chemicals and we pitch a fit about that too. We really need to make up our minds on what we want from rural America. Less chemicals, cheap food, cheap products, small farms… these things do not fit well into the same equation. The small farmer just can’t do the math on that one and so they do the best they can until they just can’t anymore.
Yep, country living sucks. It’s a romantic notion to say otherwise. Cows are not cute. Lazy summer days get real boring, real quick. And large scale organic farming is not something as easy as spreading the compost from the worm bin out back