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Topic: Tough years of farmin- gettin the best of me
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The last Generation Farme

08-20-2003 20:24:09

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My family has roots in farmin since importation from germany- I'm 32, and after 3 rough years of no rain in july and august, I'm depressed. No where else in the world do you have to put in all the sweat, all your savings, moral obligations, then depend on the weather, and to top it off only get paid what chicago board of trade pays you. Its a thankless job, consumers think your killin the enviroment, the money sucks, inputs go up and up, family life is hectic. Try explaining to the family that when the weather is at its best you have work to do, year after year. People are knockin the door off at the landlords to buy their ground to build houses where I farm, Young peolple can't buy because of the inflated value of property. There is absouletly no one my age going into farming so I guess in 20-25 years all that will be left is either mega-farms or little 5 acre tracts with a house. Either the USA will import food like it does oil or pay the big bucks to the mega farm who will control the price. Next time you see a young farmer(or any farmer as that goes) thank him for doin his job. And never think he's got it made- because he don't, Try steppin into their shoes.


08-21-2003 07:38:05

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Bless you and thank you for being out there. My disabled dad told me till his dying day that he dreamed every night about being out there farming. It was in his very soul---from the generations before him. Every summer all the family spent it in the hay fields and I swore I'd never go back to living on a farm, but here I am in my 50's and back on a small farm, although as you know, not a paying one. My grandchildren come every week and think of it as a trip to the zoo. I hope I leave them with memories of a time when nature was honored and animals were friendly. These are terrible economic times in this area too, for all of us, as there just aren't any jobs where one can pay all their bills. No one is hiring.


08-21-2003 04:36:44

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I personally want to thank you for all the effort you put into your livlihood. Here in NH we have alot of smaller farms ..I have seen a big insurge of goat farming here. Since I was a little girl I always wanted to live on a farm. I know what you are was more than likely a romantisized idea right?? I knew the hard work involved..I guess I wanted that rather than learn skills for survival in a concrete circus. We all have the lives we have lived for a reason..I appreciate everything you do and the extremely hard work you have put into it..thank you


08-20-2003 23:12:44

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What you describe is exactly the reason why we have lost the vast majority of our small family dairy farms in Wisconsin. All that's left now is farms that milk hundreds (if not a thousand or more) dairy cows. The small family farms have been broken up and turned into hobby farms and subdivisions.

Earlier this year, they burned down the feed mill in my hometown as a training exercise for the firefighters. Not so terribly long ago, the feed mill was a bustling, thriving business. But no farmers no feed mill.

When I was a kid, my dad didn't have to explain to me that he had to do the field work when the weather was right or that it was necessary to milk the cows twice a day. I was out there working along with him. My dad died 11 years ago, and I'm thankful now for every moment that I had to spend with him.

The only advice I can give to you is to follow your heart. Farming gets into your blood. You can take the farmer off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the farmer.

And thank you for being a farmer! Without farmers, none of us would have anything to eat. As a friend of mine says (she and her husband were dairy farmers before they retired): "if you ate something today, thank a farmer."


author of the book
Christmas In Dairyland (True Stories From a Wisconsin Farm)

Suzy Q

08-20-2003 22:43:44

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Keep strong, irregardless of the elements...
Farming is valuable and needs if at all possible
keep going. Jailkeeper shared his own testimony
I hope you will find solace in his words.

IMHO if you are overwhelmed, keep the land, but
rent out the area for a short time the land for
others to use... Include a percentage of the
harvest to be paid to you... Save that money and
in a few years pehaps you will regain the strength
and the faith to continue forward once again.

May God Bless you and your family.


08-20-2003 21:34:07

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My wife and I have always agreed on one thing - money ain't everything and it can't buy happiness. Do you like farming? I would guess you do since you're still at it.

I'm also 32. I was raised on a farm, but we sold out in '85 and now all the ground is cash rented to the neighbors. I would love to farm it, but getting the money to start out just isn't a reality.

I can hear your depression in your post, and I see it on the faces of my neighbors, who are my best friends. There's no doubt times are tough, but they are tough for everyone.

Hang in there and things WILL get better. Maybe not this year, but it will happen. I've always found when things were bad, if I went to church on a regular basis, it always got better. Good luck to you.


08-21-2003 18:03:40

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One of my friends since primary school was the son of some of the most successful farmers in the area. He always had the nicest clothes and in high school he had one of the nicest cars around. He started farming with his Dad right after high school and later his Dad turned their whole operation over to him. I suspect that he was supposed to share some of the profits with his only sibling, a sister who was never involved in the farm. For a number of years through the 70's, my friend did very well raising wheat, bluegrass seed and other crops and even had about 50 cattle. They bought some more land and he farmed some land belonging to relatives. I think that he owned over 2000 tillable acres and leased about 1000 more. I watched my friend get a new car every year for his wife and a new pickup every couple of years for himself. He started with good, fairly new machinery and was a good mechanic who could keep the machines working well. Over the years, he bought mostly used machinery which he fixed in the winter and often had a machine of some kind out front of his buildings for sale. He raised 3 fine boys. It all sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

But in the mid 80's his farming became less profitable. We didn't talk much about this, but I think it was the poor wheat price. But the bluegrass farming kept him going. Bluegrass (and some other dryland grass) seed prices were good and with the technique of burning the grass straw in the fields, yields were spectacular. I didn't see them driving any more new cars and my friend drove the wheels off the trucks he had. My friend also had to find a job off the farm to make ends meet. His wife took a job in town. Then the econazis decided that there would be no more grass field burning, and yields from the bluegrass dropped to about 25% of what they had been.

2 years ago my friend was basicly forced by the bank to liquidate almost all of his machinery. He still owns a bunch of land, but now it is being farmed by my friend's new employer. He makes a little return on the land, but much of the lease money goes to pay the property taxes. He has the land in "open space", so he almost would be giving it away if he was going to sell it, as you have to pay back all the reduction in taxes with interest. The farmer he now works for is the "biggest" farmer around, and seems to be doing well, somehow. My friend says he earned more working for the big farmer last year than he had for a number of years, and he now gets family medical insurance and some paid vacation. He also gets to operate machinery that he only dreamed of using when he was farming on his own.

These are strange times for farming. None of my friend's sons is even considering going into farming as a career. And that family was one of the top farm families around when we were growing up, and were almost rich. Even with that much ground, they couldn't make it.

The same thing has happened to several other formerly very successful faming families I know and I suspect that a bunch of others are teetering on the edge of stopping farming or going bankrupt. Some of it is some bad decisions way back when and some of the problems have come from government interfearance. Some of the problems come from high energy and machinery costs. And maybe there are lots of things that are kept hidden. But the worst problem is that the prices of commodities have not gone up when the costs of production have tripled.

Farming ought to be something that a hard working person who doesn't make too many mistakes could turn a profit in most years. It saddens me to see the end times of the self-supporting family farms around here. The end of an era.....

Suzy Q

08-20-2003 22:46:20

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I was impressed with your response.
Personal Faith in GOD and Reading
HIS Word, Fellowshiping with others
is a blessing even in the storms of
life, the hardships we each endure..
Thank you for your words. May they
be a blessing to others also. :)


08-22-2003 18:35:20

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For what its worth. Gods word is we shall spread seed upon the earth. We will work hard & till the earth. And, we are the care takers of the aminals.

God is going to take a dim view on what has happened to his small farms. I just feel it in my gut.

I do believe many corporate farms will appear & the small farm enterprise will be but a fraction of what it was not to many years ago.

When times get real tough, these small farms are going to be a place of salvation. Problem is just not many small farms will be in existance to run to. After all, one can not just start & operate a small farm by reading a book!

Up here in MI it is a hard road for the dairy farmer right now. The wife usually works a job in town for extra income.

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