I’m not a big football fan but I do love spending time with my husband. My husband watches one football game a year on TV, and that’s the Super Bowl. Many of my friends tell me how lucky I am that Kevin doesn’t watch more sports on TV. I think I’m lucky because my sweet farmer fell in love with me! I am like a lot of other people, I watch the Super Bowl for the half time show and the commercials. This year though, I wanted to watch the game because the Ravens had Michael Oher playing for them. The movie the ‘Blind Side’ was based on his life. Michael was adopted by the Tuohy family in Tennessee and they helped Michael grow in many ways, mostly just by loving him and giving him a place to call home. (I love that movie because it reminds me there is still a lot of good in the world today!) I wanted to watch the game last night so I could see Michael achieve something many men only dream about, playing in the Super Bowl.
Imagine my surprise though when during the fourth quarter of the game, a commercial came on with Paul Harvey’s voice reciting part of a speech he made to the FFA called ‘So God Made a Farmer.” Ram Trucks (Dodge) was paying tribute to the farmers in our country. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. I have seen a similar tribute and it always brings tears to my eyes. Last night was no exception. I had poor cell phone reception last night so I couldn’t access my internet but I saw this morning that Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with positive comments about the commercial. I wasn’t the only one who liked the commercial! THANK YOU Ram trucks for the great tribute to farmers!
Then a good friend of mine forwarded a blog they found posted on a major network’s internet page. From what I can tell someone posted this blog on the network’s page, it wasn’t put there by the network. This blog was negative about the tribute to farmers because the author didn’t think it was representative of farmers today. Quoting the blog author: “Firstly, it’s all well and good to wax poetic about how hard farmers work. But that isn’t really what farming is anymore, at least not where meat production is concerned. Farms don’t consist one hard-working man and his children. Anymore, the meat that makes its way into our grocery stores comes from factory farms.” The blog author goes on to point out not all farmers are bad, just those who raise meat in factories or confinement. Too bad the author didn’t watch our YouTube video before she wrote her post about how hogs were raised in modern barns.
The blog author is the granddaughter of a farmer who is now in his 90’s. I would love to sit down and visit with the author because I think we have a lot in common. I am also the granddaughter of two farmers; one who lived to be 95 and who lived during the Great Depression. He saw many changes to agriculture throughout his years. He used horses and tractors to plow his fields. Neither one of my grandfathers raised hogs like we do today in modern hog barns. As a matter of fact, one of my grandfather’s quit raising hogs because of the parasites in the soil on his farm. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t get rid of the parasites that lived in the soil. His hogs would always get ill and his death loss was higher than it should be. He was losing more money than he could make so he stopped raising hogs on the family farm. When he came and visited our farm the first thing he said to me was, “If I had raised my hogs in clean barns like these I might still be in the hog business today. You don’t have the parasite problem I fought for so many years.” Grandpa wasn’t upset that we had found a different way to care for our hogs and prevent this parasite problem, he was proud of the work agriculture had done to improve the living environment for our hogs. My grandpa was proud of my husband and his family for sticking with the hogs and finding a way to persevere the difficulties of raising leaner hogs on dirt. That’s right, today’s hogs are leaner than hogs were 30 or 40 years ago, that’s another reason farmers are using modern barns because hogs have a lot less body fat than the hogs my grandfather used to raise.
If I could visit with the author of this blog, I would tell her about the history of our family farm. I would explain to her we started out raising fat bodied hogs on dirt lots. Most importantly, I would tell her our family farm is just that, a family farm. We own our hogs, we own our land and we live and work on our farm every day. There are three different families working on our farm (4th & 5th generation) and our full income comes from the farm, we have no off-farm jobs. We are in control of the decision making on our farm. Sure, our barns look different than my grandfather’s barns did, but we hold the same values our ancestors did. We also have the same concerns our ancestors had, “will there be enough rain to raise a crop, will the hog check be enough to pay my feed bill, and will I have enough left over to make the next farm payment?”
At the end of the day, I am proud of the work my family does. And I am PROUD to be raising the 6th generation of farmers in our family on our farm. I know that in 30 years our farm will not look like it does today because our children will bring new changes to our farm thanks to technology and their own innovation. And that’s what I want people to understand, our farms have to change and improve if we are going to pass the farm on to our children. I know it’s confusing to people who don’t work in agriculture to understand the changes that we have made, I get that it looks scary because it’s not what they see on TV. I promise though, any change we make is to improve the quality of care we give to our hogs and land. Healthy hogs make healthy food and I feed my kids the same pork I raise for my neighbors and friends. (And I love my kids more than anything on this earth!) Prevention is the key to healthy animals, that’s why we moved our hogs indoors so we could prevent problems from occurring. I don’t blame the author of the blog for having misconceptions about farms like mine…I do hope she finds a farmer to talk to though so she can at least learn more about the changes that have taken place on the farm in the last 20 years. Communication is the key to mutual respect. Please, don’t be afraid to ask a farmer why they have made changes on their farm, we don’t bite! I’d rather someone ask me first-hand about my farm than to assume they already know the answer because they read it on the internet or they heard it from a friend. ASK A FARMER, we love to talk about our farms and family!
And thanks again to Ram for bringing the farmer into the homes of the people we love to feed!