I can’t help but notice the more we try to build our farm, how very multifaceted one needs to be to live a farm life. Our society has tried to encourage specialization in the last fifty years and made it seem more attractive and intelligent to be that way. Has this been a ploy to separate us from one another ? Take away our reliance of others and our community? Leave us stranded, by ourselves, thinking with the logic of independent mind instead of group mind? Self-absorbed caring only for ourselves and not for our neighbors?
I think the time is coming again where we will have to work together, and in the variety of tasks, the tinkerer will be very important. My husband was raised on a farm and bore the brunt of the 70’s-80’s propaganda regularly portraying country people as stupid, backward, immoral. Think of the movie “Deliverance”, was this not aimed at making people afraid of going out in wilderness areas? Not scared from the wildlife, but from the people who lived there. When the reality of our country is the values, skills, creativity, diversity, honesty, morality, raw talent combined with a work ethic is what country people had to have to survive. Living close in smaller communities you have to live with integrity or everyone knows that you’re not. Farming-ranching used to be considered respectable professions, now it’s hardly even a profession, especially if you don’t come from a large agricultural farm or pasture land. It’s almost unaffordable to buy a large tract of good land near a viable urban area.
The talent that is being lost, as this generation of people who were raised on a farm, retire is immeasurable. These country men and women who lived in tight knit community where people helped each other , needed each other, and had to earn the respect of one another. Just this as a mental picture to bring back to our individualistic, out for number one! city dwellers( or anywhere really) that our culture has fostered and encouraged through this specialization mind.
In my country town a good auto repair person, small engine mechanic, plumber, electrician, handyman, equipment operator, even gardener is worth a lot. As we live more on barter and trade in our economy what talents are needed ? Most of our countries talented truck drivers were country kids, and can get in and out of difficult situations, making our roads safer. Yet these guys are retiring leaving the driving of these heavy dangerous vehicles to who? The practical skills need to be fostered.
We are living on less, even though everything costs more. My husband scrounges the bent t-posts from vineyards his families have and were going to throw away. He splits redwood posts from old hollow buckskin logs that can’t be milled into anything.We still have to buy the fencing, but building our farm got cheaper. Working all day, then coming home and working even more, day in day out is the hallmark of a farmers life. It seems impossible to live on a farm in this country and not have one person making an outside income. Especially if you own the land and have to pay the taxes, upkeep and improvements on this property, not to mention the tools and possibly equipment to run the farm.
We have been trying hard to get off the treadmill and to live on very little so we can just farm at home. At this point we are living very self-sufficiently but because we’ve developed bare land there is too much infrastructure to still build to live on a farming income yet. But money is becoming different trading eggs and home made bread for everything from goat meat to a solar shower. Time starts to mean less, quality and good intentions mean more. With those qualities and developed talents all of sudden the things we need are more possible.