March is the time for Agriculture Week. There are getting to be fewer and fewer farmers and that is alarming. What are we to do for food if all of the little farmers are gone?
For thirty-four years I was a farmer’s wife. Life in the country was hard. We had little free time. Going out to eat was a luxury. Going shopping together was reserved for Christmas when we spent a day looking for gifts for each other. That day we always ate our supper out as well. One of the favorite places to eat was Arthur Treacher’s in Brooklyn Square.
Life in the country was an excellent way to raise a family. The children have told me that they thought everyone grew up like they did, but were surprised when that was not so.
Our life was simple. We got up every morning and they milked the cows. Then, later in the day they were milked again. Personally, I never milked a cow, but my children did. That is a story that I am sure all of the church members remember. I was the honoree at the Ladies’ Night Out. All women were asked to stand. Various things were mentioned. You sat down if you had never done it. When they said “milked a cow” I sat down. That stymied the whole church. Those of us who sat down were asked to stand back up. Eventually I was the only one standing so I could receive the award.
My allergies kept me away from the barn. I could not be around when they were taking in hay. All I did was sneeze. At that point my husband told me to go home to get the meal ready. That I could do.
Feeding the workers took a lot of time. If I cooked a big meal, I had a simple dessert such as cookies or ice cream. If I cooked a small meal, I made a big dessert such as a cake or pie. Whatever I cooked was all gone when the crew left.
Farming has changed through the years. Now some farmers do take vacations. They find someone to milk their cows while they are gone.
Dairying is what I know the most about. Today there are all kinds of “milk” out there. Personally, I cannot stand the taste of the artificial milk products. Read those labels. What is in there is not wholesome. They are filled with chemicals that you cannot even pronounce. I had some “milk” that could be kept on the shelf. I bought it so that I would not run out of milk during inclement weather. I thought it would make a good substitute. I tried several different types but ended up throwing them out because I just could not drink them or use them on my cereal. They advertise that they have less sugar. Any sugar that occurs in milk is there naturally. Milk is pure with nothing added. There are no ingredients to list.
Some farmers grow produce. You can actually go to the farm to purchase it. We have a little stand that is nearby run by an Amish farmer. He has a sign posted that says, “If you get something that you do not like, tell us. Do not tell someone else.” I had a basket with some bad apples that they cheerfully replaced when I told them about them. Everything else I have gotten there has been fresh and delicious. Don and I got acquainted with one of the sons and looked forward to seeing him at the stand. He was such a nice young man to deal with.
I grew up going out to the farm to get melons, corn, tomatoes, green beans, squash, as well as peaches, plums, and apples. After supper we got in the car and went to the farm to get food for tomorrow’s supper. It was fun. Sometimes we picked our own fruit. We picked apples, cherries, berries, and pears. That way they were certainly fresh.
The American farmer works hard with a small margin of profit for his/her efforts. It does not matter what they produce. Whether it is milk, vegetables, fruit, or maple syrup the profit margin is small and the production is a lot of work. It is a miracle that we still have people who long to make their living in agriculture. To those who continue in the field I personally say thank you. You make my life better.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at email@example.com.
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