I feel like I have a lot of confessions on my blog. I think maybe that I have a mental block saying, oh this is a safe place to do that. But, in all reality, I have thousands of you reading my confessions so… Ha. It’s not really that secret or safe.
But, I have another confession.
I’ve kind of sort of been avoiding writing about one of the passions (agriculture) in my life on here, and the reason? I’m exhausted on that front. I feel like it’s a hopeless undertaking in a world full of misinformation and misunderstanding, and most importantly…. fear.
I’ve been feeling like no matter how hard we try, how much we put ourselves and our farms out there that it’s not making a difference. That people seriously don’t care. They want to believe that farmers are “bad” people that are trying to poison our earth and people. Whether we’re talking about conventional practices, organic, free-range.. You name it, we’re all trying to talk about it.
But, we’re missing the real issue here.
Soon, our farmers will be retiring. And there’s not enough of “us” to take over.
By “us” I’m meaning the younger generation. The 20, 30 and even 40 something’s.
We have an abundance of food in our country, and that’s why we have such heated debates on which practices are the best. But, if we were a country that wasn’t blessed with this abundance, with the privilege of choices, we wouldn’t be arguing about practices.
We’d be arguing about who is going to take over to grow more food? Did you know the average age of an American farmer is 58 years of age?
So, why do we have a shortage of young farmers? Coming from one, I think I’ve got a good perspective.
1. It’s hard. It is so hard to get started farming. It can cost millions of dollars to get started, and we have to take on a HUGE debt load and responsibility of paying the bank back. So, why would you invest millions in a high risk life style/career when you could potentially make that in a lesser high risk career in the city?
2. Rural America. There isn’t a whole lot to offer compared to a larger city as far as careers, entertainment and dining options. Now, I’m lucky. In my small town we have a movie theater where the tickets are $5/ticket and we have a gas station, a locally owned coffee shop and a Dairy Queen. – It’s a hopping place on a Saturday night, let me tell you. There’s just a lot more to do in larger towns.
3. The lifestyle. Farming isn’t an occupation. It isn’t something you clock in at 9 AM and can clock out by 5 PM. Guess what time my husband woke up this morning? 4:30 AM. Guess what time he’ll likely come in for the evening? About 6:30 or 7 PM. It is hard work.
It’s hard being a “beginning farmer”. It’s overwhelming some days, to the point of wondering is it all worth it? But, I walk out to our hog barn just finished last year and am reminded.
It’s worth every penny.
It’s worth it to have something to pass down to our children, and our children’s children.
It’s worth it to see my husband do what he loves, care for God’s beautiful Earth, tend to His livestock and feed His people.
It is worth it to know that he IS making a difference in this food fight. Not the fight on conventional/organic– the fight in feeding His people a healthy, wholesome piece of pork or even a piece of tofu not on our home front.. But maybe a million miles across an ocean.
Being a young farmer is worth every tear, penny, and 15 hour day.
It’s worth it all.
Love to all- Nicole