This is Agriculture week, with National Ag Day on Thursday, March 8th. In honor of such a week, I thought I’d post about some of the reasons I appreciate agriculture. Feel free to comment below with your own reasons–there are more than you think! If you need more inspiration, you can read this amazing blog about what your life would look like sans agriculturalists.
Monday: I am thankful for cotton farmers. Without which, I would not have cozy sheets to sleep in (and dread having to get out of on Monday mornings)
Tuesday: I appreciate Agriculturalists for their soft-spoken, polite demeanor. Even though I only seem to encounter them when they are making a deposit at my bank, they always seem to say “ma’am” and “please”, and it’s nice to see a section of America that hasn’t forgotten to bring their manners with them when they leave the house.
Wednesday: Today I am thankful for farmers and ranchers who work long, hard hours even when the weather is gruelling, horrific, and even dangerous. Today is 70 and sunny, but many put in 10-12 hour days even in rain, floods, snow, tornado watches, hurricane-force winds, and hail. And that’s not something to be overlooked about their daily responsibilities
Thursday: I am thankful for dairy farmers, who wake up somewhere between 3-4am for the first round of milking every day. That’s early even for farmers! But today, it allowed the wonderful whipped cream to be put on top of my free birthday Starbucks giant Java Chip Frappachino, and that was a decadent treat I would never have enjoyed without someone losing sleep on my account.
Friday: I am thankful for all people involved in agriculture, including the ones at slaughter plants. Their job may not be uplifting or glorious, but they work hard to make sure my food is killed in a peaceful manner and ends up as a safe product for me and my family to eat.
From what I gather, if there were ever a job description typed out for a farmer, I think it would look something like this:
- To provide food for 155 people annually
- Provide food, shelter, water, health care, and attention to their livestock every day
- Be environmental stewards
- Ensure that America’s food is healthy, great-tasting, and safe, free of drugs or harmful chemicals or disease
Qualifications and Skills:
- Physical capabilities of lifting upwards of 100 lbs
- Mechanical skills to fix farm equipment without a shop
- Accounting skills to manage the operation’s funds
- Carpentry, Plumbing and Construction skills to build fences, repair water lines, etc to maintain animal facilities
- Record keeping, to great detail, to provide food traceability
- Basic veterinary skills to help birthing, give accurate dosages of vaccines and medications, minor surgical skills, etc
- Stay updated on laws passed in the areas of animal welfare, soil, waste management, fertilizers, vaccines, medications, withdrawl times, etc
- Your hours will be 7 days a week, an average of 10-12 hours a day
- Sundays you may be able to get by with 3-4 hours, just enough to feed and check up on the animals
- During calving/lambing/farrowing season, you may be sleeping in the barn or waking up every 2 hours to check on the mothers and babies
- No paid holidays or sick days. In fact, if you miss any days, you will lose pay. Even if you are sore, sick, or puking, you must take a few hours to at least feed the animals. Unless you can find someone else to do it for you. If you do not have family members who can fill in, you may be out of luck.
- If you would still like a day off, you are responsibly for finding your substitute and paying them if necessary. (If you think finding a pet-sitter for your 2 dogs is hard, imagine trying to find someone to go outside in -10°F weather and feed 500 animals)
- You will likely work outside most hours of your shifts. The temperatures will range from 110°F to -20ºF.
- You may come under fire from media who do not understand your lifestyle and practices.
- Unlike those who provide safety to our country (such as police, military, firemen), you may never get thanked for providing one of the biggest human necessities of life: Food.
- There are no health benefits, 401k matching programs, or company discounts. (unless you count the meat you keep instead of selling for profit)
- Your average net income will be less than $20,000/year, so please prepare to work a second job. This income is contingent upon the weather, prices of gasoline, corn, and other feedstuffs. Please note that if you manage to do all your work in just 60 hours a week, this averages to around $6.00/hour.
So, anyone still interested?
At the very least, I bet you’re no longer surprised that less than 2% of America loves their land and animals enough to sign up for this kind of work environment. That really says something about that 2% though, doesn’t it?