I'm their farmer. I will tell you the truth. It may not be the truth you want because sometimes it isn't pretty and sometimes it's messy, but I will tell you and you will know the truth. Just ask me.
Posts tagged ‘responsiblity’
...along with all the blessings of being a farmer there are the heartaches and pain that sometimes drown out all the good things. But because we are farmers we don't step back long because it's okay to get riled up. It's more than okay to fight for what's right. It is never wrong to protect your own, we just have to do it between milkings and after the crops are in... and we have to remember to #justsmile.
Things are always really busy this time of year. Picking sweet corn. Bagging sweet corn. Delivering sweet corn. Getting tired of cooking and eating sweet corn… and of course there is that dairy farm thing… and the kids… and tours… and thank goodness I was able to quit Candy Crush cold turkey 6 months ago….But yeah, August is pretty busy so sometimes emails and messages fall through the cracks and get ignored, inadvertently. As luck would have it I just happened to have my phone handy while delivering corn to a local market last Wednesday when a very brief message popped up in my Inbox.
Funny how just a few words can be so important. I’ve been around the hay field enough times to know that when someone asks a farmer a question it is best to answer them. I have also been around enough manure piles to know exactly what kind of videos and “information” are out there so as soon as the corn delivery was complete and I was able to I clicked the link and gave serious thought to the question at hand: “I’m assuming this isn’t the normal farm. ” And that’s when I realized something. I didn’t need to give my answer much thought. I can’t answer for a video I didn’t make and have no first hand knowledge about, but I can provide the truth that I know, and that doesn’t take any crafting-it just takes honesty.
An honest “thank you” for taking the time to ask a farmer. An honest reaction to what is undeniably hard to watch. An honest assessment of who is behind the so-called information and what their real agenda is. An honest description of things that happen on your farm…and a sincere invitation to visit and learn what really goes on at a farm: the good, the bad, and the shitty.
Honesty can take you far. Just a few weeks ago I told a room full of young farmers that they shouldn’t worry about whether they are good at arguing or bad at arguing because all they needed to be is honest. Because being honest about their way of life that they love; their animals that are their No. 1 priority; their farm that is their passion is going to come through loud and clear and drown out the other “information”.
So for the young man who took the time to ask a farmer a question I made the time to be honest. I look forward to showing he and his younger brothers around our family farm in the near future and I am so happy that he is armed with the truth so he can share it with others. Being honest is easy. It doesn’t require creative editing or strategic camera placement or even statements crafted to elicit the most visceral responses with a great deal of disregard for the truth. Honesty conveys commitment, concern, dedication and pride, and that, when it comes to agriculture, is the norm.
I despise typos. Not the typos of others…those I can stomach (though I have been known to scoff at them). But my own typos I ABHOR. I dislike any mistake I make and that includes typos, or the dreaded “unnoticed auto correct” that tosses away my “they’re” and replaces it with a “their”…or the bane of my iPhone existence: the interchanging of “gin” and “gun”. Interestingly enough I use both words frequently and though the context is usually clear enough for the reader to easily surmise which of the two I meant it bothers me that my phone would assume that I meant “gin” when I typed “gun” and vice versa. It’s just such a letdown that my phone 1) apparently doesn’t truly “get me” and 2) insists on being the one in control. Meanwhile, fatigued from the auto-correct battles and the user error typos (yes, I admit that I make many, many, MANY typographical errors that cannot be blamed on anyone or anything other than myself) there are the Tagging Battles….Anyone on Facebook knows that tagging can be easy, difficult or WAY too easy. Add a Page account into the mix and you get a whole new front in regards to tagging. Just the other day I struggled for what seemed like hours (but in actuality was closer to about 3-1/2 minutes) to tag a farm in a post. No matter what I did the wrong farm kept popping up, sneaking through…this went on for an eternity (in this case eternity=3-1/2 minutes)..until finally I was able to actually perform the very simple task I had set out to do. I was, for a while, horrified at the thought that I might have not noticed my error and proceeded with the post and the embarrassment that would have ensued…and possible hard feelings.
All that seems pretty minor now because at least I didn’t tag the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Or heaven forbid publicly endorse them. (Not that I would…as a matter of fact I quite often take the time to explain to folks that their support of HSUS is for a political & propaganda machine that is far more interested in ending farming, ranching, & agriculture than they are in protecting and caring for animals and that the efforts of local Humane Societies are not a result of HSUS fundraising and outreach…and I do so with civility and without vitriol). Now the presumably good folks The Original Muck Boot Company, did not have as much luck as I did in avoiding an unfortunate tag and if you would like to read a little bit on the backstory of this whole issue you can check out Ryan Goodman’s post. The whole point is that at some point someone somewhere may have confused A Humane Society with a THE Humane Society and to make matters worse someone posted something that probably shouldn’t have been on Facebook on Facebook (NOBODY I know has ever had that happen or been guilty of something so ridiculous or possibly wine induced, I am sure…) and then it happened….a full fledged assault on the makers of Muck Boots across multiple media platforms and I have heard that a permit for the burning of Muck boots is in the works. All because of a couple pics and a tag on Facebook. Or was it?
In fact the uproar wasn’t because of the posts on the Muck Boot page. The uproar was from the Muckraking that ensued. (cut me some slack-I spent so much time writing papers on muckrakers that there is NO WAY IN HELL I am going to pass up the opportunity to work it into this -I mean really, the name of the company is MUCK!!!!). The fact is that we farmers are a passionate lot. We work hard. We work an awful lot. We get really dirty, really tired, and really don’t get paid well most of the time and on top of that, we get really picked on by a lot of folks who basically get paid to pick on us. And disparage us. And attack us. And vilify us. And HSUS is one of those organizations that spends a LOT of time and a LOT of money doing all of that. Needless to say, when someone appears to be supporting the people or entity that spends most of their energy trying to destroy your life and way of life things get a little heated. And this was no exception.
I’m not someone to be trifled with. I am quite capable of getting my dander up. Feathers get ruffled. Teeth get gnashing. There have been times that a bit of frothing at the mouth occurred. BUT, I have learned that a little bit of research and a LOT of patience is usually the best course of action. When trying to find out what exactly the issue was the only results from web searches turned out to be the anger and crowd sourced Kraken that had been released overnight. Though full of very imaginative ways to dispose of Muck boots and where exactly they could be stored it didn’t really help to explain the issue at hand-quirky little Milkmaid questions like: “How much money was raised?”, “Was this a corporate wide fundraiser?”, “Why does the quality of the picture look NOTHING like the normal images the Facebook page posts?”, you know…things like that. I will admit that a few years ago I gave up my cheap, go to, readily available Yellow Tail wine when I found out they had provided a donation to HSUS. Of course I was getting a bit tired of the Aussies and was ready to start delving into the Argentinian and Chilean grapes so…I can’t really say that I made a stand as much as I made a bold palate change, and though many who know me would daresay that the loss of my wine purchases were surely felt by the company, I am confident (and keep telling myself) that I don’t drink THAT much wine. My point it that I wasn’t ready to set Muck Boots in my sights, and even though I realized around noon time that there were a pair of Muck boots in our household (I tripped over the pair that belongs to The Farmer’s Daughter and thought, “Oh. We do own a pair.”) I was in no way prepared to purge the house of them because I didn’t have the facts-like the folks who often comment and attack we farmers about our “veal houses” (we know them as hutches) or the folks who proclaim our neighbours and fellow farmers are “Monsanto shills” simply because when it comes to raising calves or the use of biotechnology they are without the facts and information. So I wait. Listen to the beat of my own drummer. Swim a bit upstream. And though I got bit dirty today in the cornfield I didn’t get down in the Muck, because the only Muck I will get down in is the Muck I know…not that which is raked up by others. No matter how passionately, honestly or well-intentioned it may be, the reality is that without all the facts and knowledge Muckraking is Muckraking and before I rake Muck over the coals I remember that it never feels good to be vilified just because someone doesn’t have the facts.
Trust is one of those traits; bonds; intangibles; values that are sometimes easily bestowed and other times forcibly revoked. As a dairy farmer you trust in fate and hard work that the seed will grow and the animals thrive. As an employer you trust that your employees share your values and will do what is right, and that you have made it clear what you value and what is right. As a consumer you trust that the food you depend upon, and pay good money for, is fresh and of the highest quality and comes from a farm that stewards the land and animals in the best way possible. All of these people make choices and decisions as to who deserves their trust and faith and only they can be accountable for those decisions. But this calf, this calf had no choice and yet she trusts us. She trusts us to ensure that her life is a good one, with every effort made to provide her with health, comfort and happiness. She trusts us implicitly to treat her as part of the family, and truth be told, at our farm, she will be….and sometimes be treated better than family. As a dairy farmer you trust that all your hard work will result in success; but there is no guarantee except that lack of hard work will surely fail to bring you success. As an employer you trust that you have set the bar high for those who work with you and for you; but there is no guarantee that this be true except that if you rely on trust alone you will be disappointed. As a consumer you trust that what you know, what you read and what you hear is all true; but there is no guarantee that what you see is reality nor what you want to believe is the best. And none of this means anything to this calf except that she trusts that her life will be a good one.
At the end of the day, when all the disturbing video has been watched over and over again; after all the interested parties have expressed their opinions, both experienced and inexperienced, knowledgeable or ignorant, hidden agenda or purely passionate, this calf trusts in the consumer to trust in the farmer and the farmer to instill trust in their employees to do what is right for her. Not what is popular, trendy, knee jerk, or emotional but what is right for her-which may be entirely different than what is prettiest for the consumer, easiest for the employee and employer, or what the farmer may be accustomed to.
As a dairy farmer, an employer, an employee and a consumer I say to this calf, “Trust in Me.”