Wednesday, September 2, 2015

So You Think Farming's 'Cute'?


Mark Malecha, a Minnesota farmer, fell into a silo while knocking down some frozen corn. He spent 8 hours trapped there, buried to his chest in corn, before rescuers could get him out.

Recently I was a talking to a colleague and she asked me where I live. I told her I live on a farm, and told her what we do and what we raise. Her response was, “Oh you live on a farm, how cute!”

I had to stop myself quickly from slapping her up one side of her silly head and just think to myself, “OK, this person is none too bright. Let it go. You just got this job; you don’t want to commit assault on your first day.”

But, man, did that comment stay with me – it really made me mad. When I got home that night I was still mad. Also, when I got home I discovered that my husband had spent the day sorting cattle and was covered nearly from head to toe in muck and manure. That’s real cute. Now I was going to have to take those jeans down to the creek and slap them against rocks to get the grime out. We live on a farm, so that means we don’t have electricity and appliances like civilized people do, doesn’t it? I love farm living. It’s so cute.

Besides living on a cute farm, I also found out that most of my friends on Facebook think getting run over and stomped by cattle is funny. There was an article entitled “Cow tips man, steps on him,” posted on The Huffington Post. From the title one would expect the article to be about some idiot actually trying to “tip” a cow, only to have the cow get the best of him.

No. The article was about a University of Tennessee farm worker getting knocked down and having his chest stepped on by a cow. He was taken away in an ambulance. So some goober writes an article about the incident making fun of the situation. After all, farming is cute, right?

This event could have turned tragic quickly, but because the worker survived it’s okay to write an article about it with a humorous headline. How sick is that? I posted the link on my Facebook page and vented my disgust, feeling ever so righteous. I figured my wise and educated friends would agree with my assessment, and we could all feel good about ourselves and rally behind those who make their living farming.

Well, forget that. My wise and educated friends just looked at the headline, didn’t read the article and then responded that too bad the guy didn’t get killed, he could’ve gotten the Darwin award for messing with cattle. This resulted in me making some rather curt responses and having to explain why the whole thing was not a bit funny. My friends were embarrassed, sure, but they still think it’s funny. You know they do, because they just don’t get it. 

It seems in our current culture there are two types of farming. The “cute” kind (which I guess would be the small, local producer) and the “spawn of Satan going to eat your head" kind (which is factory farming).

My friends have learned that factory farms are bad because they use immigrant labor; animals are abused; that’s where H1N1 originated;  and, lest we forget, farming pollutes the environment

They like to get all jiggy with the issues surrounding factory farms and think they can avoid the whole problem by buying “organic,” because organic farms are the cute kind. Hate to burst your bubble, guys, but California is the leading producer of organic foods and many of these farms (1) use immigrant labor and (2) are factory farms (but just follow a different set of rules). Just because it says organic on it doesn’t mean it was grown by meditating hippies living on a commune in a geodesic dome being at one with nature on their cute little farm. 

As a result of a media education, my buddies hate factory farms — Okay, I understand this, there’s a lot to hate about factory farms — praise locovores and vegans, and think farming is cute.

I've got one question, “Where do you think your food comes from, you morons?” Do you think unicorns deliver it prepackaged and ready to go from some other dimension to your local grocery store?

I’ll tell you where it comes from. It comes from those of us who live and work on farms, getting stomped on by cattle, only to have some reporter write a story about “cow tipping,” making light of what was no doubt a very scary and painful incident. 

News flash – farming ain’t cute. It’s hard, dirty, dangerous work and farm accidents aren’t funny.

Where do you think the leather for those Birkenstock sandals that you are so proud of wearing came from?  Have a little respect why don’t you – without all of us cute farmers you wouldn’t be near as cool as you think you are. 


Good - I like this

It is nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. For the most part I agree with you. I've been farming all my life and it's not the easiest job out there for sure. I like the part about the unicorn from another dimension delivering the food. Not to mention, most clothes come from cotton. I guess they think a factory just makes it out of dirt.

About time!  I have run into

About time!  I have run into whole organized groups of folks who think that farming means a garden in their back yard, and a stand at the local weekend farmers market selling over stock.  I grew up on a farm, it is hard, dirty work that is totally unforgiving.  Forget about vacations, forget about personal time, there is always hard work to do.  I went to school with kids who had lost fingers, arms and legs, and parents due to farming accidents.  My own brothers each lost parts of fingers.  I can not tell you how many broken toes, kicked shins, or cracked ribs we all had together from just tending the cows and horses!  It is not cute, it is not "playing at farming".  I have nothing against gardening, in fact I encourage it, especially in the young, but gardening is not farming.  I think we need a feature film docu-drama hosted by a big name to explain it to folks just what real farms are and how dangerous they can be.  Lets face it, you have glam girls like Hannah Montana escaping to a ranch and running into all kinds of cute situations, but that is not real farming and it is projecting a missconception.  I guess ignorant is as ignorant does.

All too true!

Thanks for a snarkily- humorous look at what farming's really like. As one who grew up on a family farm, I can attest to the dirt and danger of that way of life as well as the black humor that we all use to cope with it! (FYI, last year I was attacked and injured by a once-friendly cow for no apparent reason. Being alone and not near help, it was not in any way cute or funny, and this only becomes apparent to those who have never experienced it after I spend many a long conversation explaning how scary and potentially awful things could have been. The cow and I are both fine now.)

If you want a musical shout-out to this way of life (without the cute romanticism of most songs about farming- finally!), check out "Country Life", written by Steve Knightely in the UK. Sara Milonovich's version of the song, adapted slightly for American agriculture, can be heard on Myspace (just look up her name.)

Of course farming is hard, but..

I don't think farmers or gardeners or sustainable farmers or big agri-farmers should beat up on each other. 

Sheep farming is hard.  Cattle farming is hard.  Farrowing hogs is hard.  Small dairy farming is hard.  Growing food sustainably is hard. 

All that being said, I think we need to educate the general non-farming public so that they understand what is hard about farming and why they should be willing to pay a fair price for their food.  And frankly I believe that the way to do that is through the 'farming is cute and they have baby animals' route.  Everyone's job is hard to them - so let's leverage what we have to enlighten the public.