Many thanks to Illinois Farm Families for sponsoring this year-long discussion about all things related to farming.
With blasts of arctic air hitting all throughout the midwest, and northeast, it’s hard to think that someone would WILLINGLY go out into this weather. Some people don’t have a choice. Some of those people happen to be the farmers that continue to check on the livestock that may bring you your milk, butter, eggs, and meat. It’s a difficult job, but someone has to do it. I’m so grateful (at the moment) that the someone is not me.
The cellist has always wanted to live on a farm. Yes. Even at 14, he still talks about tending to a field of crops, and animals, and for the most part, I think he’s thinking that an acre is the biggest it can get. Especially when I explained that an acre is about the size of a football field. After telling him that some farmers have 200 acres, or sometimes even thousands of acreage that they tend to, he looked a little green in the face. It led to an interesting discussion about what farmers HAVE to do, and how they can’t take time off because of weather. Rain, extreme heat, or frigid temperatures do not keep these hard-working men and women in bed like so many of us can afford to do. Temperatures in Chicago drop below 0 degrees quite often during the winter months. Last January, we had a record-breaking day that was easily -45 and some of us had the option of staying safe and warm in our homes. Our city shut down for the most part, and it was amazing to see, Chicago, a bustling city, relatively quiet.
After visiting a hog farm a couple of years ago, I was reminded during that time, that farmers don’t get to call off. They still have to go and check on their flock, and make sure that their needs are being met, and that they are well taken care of. It’s not a job for the faint of heart, or for those that don’t know how to bundle. We were cold walking from the barn to the pen, and I couldn’t imagine doing it daily.
I’m realizing that farming isn’t just one of those jobs that you say – this looks easy! – it’s all about focus, and making sure that the crop, or livestock that you’re caring for, is the best for potential customers. Whether that be at a farmers market, or your local grocery store. Given that the majority of the farmers also consume what they grow, I’m sure that they would want the best for THEIR families as well. This is for organic AND non-organic farmers. I’m sure that they want the quality of whatever they are tending to, to best meet the needs of their family, and their customers. Otherwise they are out of a job.
What kinds of things do you think farmers have to think about that YOU don’t? Share them in the comments below!