I was inspired reading the terrific Agricultural Issue last week and thought I’d do my own salute to farmers who have so much to do with me getting my ‘fix’ for my thrice daily food addiction. I’m probably the worst person on the planet to write about Agricultural topics, however, because, I loathe Agriculture with a passion I usually only reserve for “The Bachelor” or bed-sheets made of fiberglass pink. I believe the farm life is difficult and dangerous, with such meager profits, many farmers have full time employment to support their driven passion. It is one of few areas where the lives of writers and famers intersect.
If you spend any time at all with members of the farming community, you will quickly learn farming is in the very life-blood of those that get their culture from agriculture. I’ve often mentioned my farmer buddy, Mike, who longs to win the 649 lottery; not so he wouldn’t have to farm anymore but so he could farm better. If he ever decided to goof off for a day, Mike would probably get up at 5:00 AM to get an early start.
It’s not just the long, arduous, self-directed work which requires knowledge of far more skills than I possess (welding, mechanics, carpentry, animal husbandry, predator protection et al) that turns me off of farming. It’s also that all the farm animals despise me. I’m convinced they know I eat their relatives daily. Chickens resent me for breakfasting on their young before they’ve had a chance to hatch. I do like an omelet, after all. Trust me when I say never turn your back to vicious barnyard beasts. Even chickens have blood lust.
Throughout my life I have yet to meet a farm animal that didn’t want to hurt me in some way. I have been bitten by horses, kicked by goats, nipped by geese and had flocks of turkeys attack like a scene from Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’. I am particularly vigilant of all cows with their dark thoughts; who plan to push me down and roll on me, crushing my tender little body into a bloody pulp ironically similar to ground beef. When I tell my farm-addicted friends about my experiences and concerns regarding their vicious food sources, they just laugh and nudge each other knowingly. Timid townies are what passes for comic relief out on the rural routes. Still, they are a warm, generous people who are always willing to share their absurd lifestyle with the farm-curious.
My buddy, Pete, often tried to inculcate me into the lifestyle of an Agrarian Man on his small farm Northwest of town. He let me try driving his combine as well as had me out on a baler, tossing him bales as they were puked out of the noisy, dangerous machinery. I can see why farming is in the top ten most dangerous occupations.
Besides wrangling stocks of grain that just stand there until you mow them down, Pete also had me help feed and water and even vasectomize little piggies, despite my propensity to want to faint dead away.
The worst jobs, however, occurred when Pete decided to raise wild boars. He claimed the meat was leaner and had more protein per ounce, but with the tusks jutting out from their faces, I thought he was nuts. Regular pigs already scare the bejeebers out of me, even if I went to the bathroom first to eliminate as much bejeeber as possible. Adding razor sharp weapons on their mouths to increase the degree of difficulty seems like a clear case of madness.
There is nothing so terrifying as trying to load a wild boar into the truck to take to market. You had to cut one out of the herd using only sheets of plywood as a shield. It was like going to a knife fight with a wooden spoon.
In one terrifying boar- loading adventure, I ended up abandoning my puny piece of plywood to make a run for the fence with a sabre-toothed sow hot on my heels. If Pete hadn’t thrown me over the fence at the last second, I’d have been done for, given that fence climbing, even with adrenalin surging through my corpulent mass, is not part of my skill set.
So here’s to the stout-hearted people of the earth who tend to the land that feeds the world. The rest of us are truly indebted to you and appreciate you, despite the tell-tale aroma of your footwear.