So I live in the country. My in-laws have a dairy farm. My daughter is one of Pennsylvania’s Junior Miss United States Agriculture Queens. My husband has lived and worked on a farm for his entire 40 years. I lived on a farm for the first almost 10 years of my life. Agriculture is a way of life for my family.
Now let me be honest… I hate farm work. Well, ok most farm work. I like to ride in the equipment with the hubby and watch the wonder of harvest time. I don’t like cleaning barns. I don’t like cows at all. I am a horse girl but I understand that farming is no cake walk. Let me tell you what dairy farming is*….
Farming is early mornings. Not just when you want to. It’s even when you don’t want to. I am not talking about 6 am early. I’m talking 3 or 4 am early depending on what needs done before milking starts.
Farming is late nights. Depending on the time of year, nights turn into days and days turn into weeks with little to no sleep. Field work starts in March or April, depending on the weather and goes through harvest season in October and November depending on the crop. We aren’t talking your normal 9 to 5 work day. Field work starts as soon as the morning chores are done goes until the jobs done. They eat their meals in the fields and just keep the tractors plowing through. My husband has gone up to 48 hours straight just to beat the weather.
Farming is hard work. Farming isn’t for the lazy. Let me tell you.!! There is always something that needs to be done on the farm. Barns need cleaned. Calves need fed. Equipment needs serviced. That doesn’t even consider the normal chores that people take for granted like laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house… Farming doesn’t discriminate. There is no job that is gender specific. This is an all hands type job.
Farming is a money pit. Currently, there’s no money in farming, especially dairy farming. If you are on social media, I am sure you have seen the posts that the dairy farmer really only gets a very small portion of the actual money made on milk.
Last month, it cost the average farmer $1.95 to produce a single gallon of milk. That same average farmer received only $1.38 for a gallon of milk, equaling a net loss of $0.57. In the past decade, the United States has lost 17,000 dairy farms. If things continue at this rate, soon enough we won’t have any family dairy farms at all.
Farming is a 365 day job. There is no vacation or sick time. The animals and fields can’t wait. Weddings, funerals, birthdays are scheduled based on the weather and field work.
I kid you not… my wedding was scheduled around the county fair and third cutting of hay. Family and friends left the reception to go milk the cows. I am dead serious when I tell you that there is no time off. Someone always has to be there. Dating my husband, our dates were late at night. Between my work schedule in retail and the farm, we usually ended up at the local 24 hour diner. We would just be going out at 10 or 11 at night. Summer wasn’t much better. I would end up tracking him down in whatever field he was working in and ride around in the tractor for hours. There were many a night that I would nod off circling the field and be rudely awakened as my head bounced off the back window in the tractor.
I guess if you made it this far, you are probably wondering what my point is… My point is that country living isn’t the fantasy of sitting around a campfire and hanging out. It is hard work and dedication for a slowing dying industry. Next time you get stuck behind a tractor, just remember that’s someones office and they are moving as fast as their equipment will take them. As you go to bed or get ready to go out with friends, remember that somewhere there is a farmer still working.
God Bless the Farmer and Protect Them!
*Please note that this is not in any way saying that other forms of farming are any different. These are just my experiences.
Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash