Saturday, August 20, 2011

Harvest - Day 6 - A Generation Lost

I was hoping to write a little more often than six days, but that is how it goes. Waiting for trucks, a minor breakdown, and a high school practice football game (Orange and Black game) have kept me in the field longer which has deprived me of sleep. Anyway, it is the weekend and no phone calls that are really demanding.
I finished up the first field Tuesday but haven’t had a chance to tally the final yield. If you are a Facebook friend you have seen some of the pictures I posted. It is definitely one of my favorite fields because of the view down the Clearwater River canyon, the route that Lewis and Clark took to the Pacific.
It took me Tuesday to Friday to finish up the second field (twice as large as the first) and I moved onto the third one. Wednesday brought the mechanic out in the morning to replace a couple of bushings for the straw walkers. We had it apart and at the shop so he could press them in. It is very crucial to get them seated properly.
But as I have been cutting I have been thinking about a generation that was lost this year. My great aunt, Henny Reil, passed away earlier this year at the age of 96. Looking at her house is not the same. Her husband and my grandparents farmed together in the 20’s and 30’s. Her mind was still sharp up to the end.
This will be the first harvest in my memory that there will not be 4 generations alive. The wealth of knowledge and history that is lost is immeasurable. I asked Henny earlier this year if she ever remembered a year this wet and she said no. We had a record amount of rain and I didn’t get any spring crops planted.
As I am sitting on my butt going around in circles, I have been wondering about farming and the future for my boys. What major changes will be made in my lifetime that will seem foreign? Will farmers be regulated out of business? Will they even be able to keep farming? These questions bother me because I don’t have the answer.
I think of the changes that happened in Henny’s lifetime like the move away from horse drawn equipment to mechanized farming. The change from steel wheels and tracks to ones made from rubber. Or to the extreme, the use of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) and auto steering to assist with farming.
Today, our lives are so dependent upon electricity of one form or another. I use it to light my shop, run my welder, grinders and drill press. Gone is the stationary motor and drive wheels on the wall to run shop equipment.
What would I do without my Android smart phone, Jawbone ear piece, yield monitor, or camera to help me during harvest? I can call about markets, talk to the service department, and take pictures of problems in the field. But are we better off for the advancements?
There are some in the U.S. and world, elitists that are trying to halt advances for agriculture and business. They would almost like to see us go back to riding horses. I mean, how does the EPA expect us to regulate dust on a job that requires us to work in dirt? Should we all go back to picking berries and eating pemmican?
No, I believe the advances made during the lifetime of my great aunt have made us better as people and a society. We are not only living longer, but we are living better. The American people don’t have to worry about food, it has always been there.
Why? It is because of the advancements of technology. I am thankful that I don’t have to farm with horses anymore; I deal with enough horse puckey as it is due to radicals and government regulations. Take care and keep it between the fences!

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