Sassy “MiMi” Sandy Sue says…
What is happening to our disappearing farms?
Have you looked around you lately?
Do you know where any farms are?
How will you feed your family if the S_ _ _ _ Hit the Fan tomorrow?
Is there anything you can do?
- What do we eat when the farms are all out of business?
- Can you grow your own food?
- Could you share with anyone else?
- Do you know how you will protect yourself and your food supply, and your family, when this gigantic crisis hits?
- How much do you know about the economics of farms and farming?
Farms are dwindling as we speak, and the cultural/economic crisis hasn’t even hit. What will we all do when the farmers have to keep everything they are growing for their families?
Considering the direction the politics in this country are headed, it appears that we will be in some sort of Civil or Cultural war sooner rather than later! Are you worried, I sure as heck am!
But back to my soapbox later, I am really trying to show how important farms, and farming is to our society.
If you have been following me for any period of time, whether through my blog, on facebook, or Pinterest, you will have an idea of how much I love farms, and the farming way of life. There is something so satisfying about waking up at sunrise and seeing how beautiful the sun looks as it rises over the barns and the vast expanse of land we call farms, laid out like a patchwork quilt, with plantings in various stages of growth. Animals and farmers work together on the farms to support each other.
Teamwork makes everything better, and easier for us all!
United we Stand, Divided we Fall!
As much as I love farms and farming I love the old buildings more, like farm houses, outhouses, and barns. I like both new and old ones, but I especially love the old ones.
Many people think you should tear an old building down when it starts to deteriorate, that it costs too much to restore it But I love them in any state of repair, or disrepair. Each building seems anxious to tell it’s story, and I dearly love being the sleuth who figures it out. Even if it’s just my imagination, there is something so romantic about focusing a life so much different from what we have in the city.
It was such an idyllic life I remember as a child on my grandparents farm. Oh, by the way, my grandparents always had farms. The last one was a chicken farm, on 40 acres where they also raised, pigeons, rabbits, and turkeys, in addition to a full vegetable and fruit garden. They operated a stand at the City Market in where my grandmother, sold the meats, eggs, and produce.
The best answer I can give is, we grew up spending so much time on my grandparents farms, and it seems like that is the way of life we grew to love. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting on the front porch in the evening, especially after you have spent all day working in the garden. It’s so satisfying gazing out at the sunrise or sunset, and looking at all you accomplish each day. You just feel a sense of responsibility, purpose and contentment that you can’t get anywhere else. Farmers know what it means to work hard, as their very life depends on it.
My Sister’s newly renovated farm house
My sister recently purchased a small farm, only about 8-10 acres, not very far from her ‘in-town’ residence. She proceeded to spend a lot of time; the better portion of the past couple of years remodeling the farmhouse that was there, putting in gorgeous landscape, a vineyard, and a small garden. It was at considerable financial cost too, my brother in law was pretty upset with her for spending so much.
You probably would ask:
- “Why not tear it down and build a new farmhouse on the land?”
- “Why did she pick one so close to her permanent residence?”
- “What’s the point?”
- “Who wants or need farms?”
Her husband was somewhat skeptical about buying the farm period. He especially didn’t think it would be good to have one so close to their permanent residence (it only takes about 10-15 minutes to get there from the house). But when you get there you understand how comfortable and relaxed you are. You feel like you are a million miles away from home and have dumped all the cares of daily life!
My brother in law goes out to his club every morning and works out. He then goes to the farm to take a shower and relax a little while he reads the morning newspaper, then off to work. Now he says how much he loves it! It is difficult to even remember the time before they had this little slice of heaven! Since her farm is a relaxing farm, and not a working farm, she doesn’t have a barn yet. But, knowing her it is coming…soon. I can’t wait!
To my sister, and I must confess to me too, the house is the most important building on the farms. If the house isn’t comfortable, (meaning pretty and relaxing), it isn’t worth having! Think about it, after you have worked outside in the heat or the cold all day, you need the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate overnight.
Her sister’s farmhouse just oozes comfort, and serenity (just look back at the picture above). It feels like it just wraps it’s arms around you and gives you a big hug, and belies all the money and hard work she put into it. I love being at their farm almost as much as she does!
Farmers build shelters first, then start the farming
Most farmers build a small house, a log cabin, or even a hut to shelter their families first, then spend a good bit of time working on the perfect barn. The barn is used as an integral part of their work each day, and is a necessity to keep the hay dry, so they can feed the animals during the winter. The barn also serves as a place to store the equipment which is so essential to keeping the farms going. If the equipment doesn’t work, guess what, the farmer doesn’t work. If the farmer doesn’t work, his family doesn’t eat!
Typically a farmer clears off a small space on his property for the house, and a larger space for the barn. Then the trees he cuts down will be sent to a sawmill (or sometimes he will build a small sawmill on his own property) this is the wood he will use to build his barn and his house. Nothing is taken for granted, and nothing is wasted on farms.
Raising a barn is a great tradition for farmers and their families. If a farmer needs a new building, he gathers all the raw materials he has available and calls in his family and neighbors. They spend a few days building the barn, and sometimes a small house too .
Having cookouts each meal, and sitting around the campfire each evening, planning what will happen the next day. Each barn raising was and still is, a treat for the families involved, yes they had to work really hard, but they got to be around family and friends they weren’t able to see on a regular basis.
The women and older girls were there to prepare meals, start new quilts, and take care of the children. The men and older boys handled the construction, and the children play with each other, and run errands for the older ones. At the end of a barn raising, there is always a party, with special food, music, and usually a good ol’ barn dance. This is the reward for all the hard work and patience it takes to get the job done.
Different Barn Styles used on farms
Corn Crib/Wheat Crib
A barn with a gabled roof, the sides have openings in them so the air can pass right through and dry the corn or wheat for preservation purposes. The corn cribs have as many different styles as the regular barns do, notice the rock one below the wooden one.
Barns are built in different shapes depending on where the farms family hails from, and the use of the barn, as well as the building materials available to them at the time. Most barns originally were built in a dutch style with a pitched roof.
It would have a large door on the narrower end where they could drive the equipment in to keep it out of the weather. There were usually smaller doors for people and animals to enter on each side of the larger door. Generally all the barns have a hayloft so the hay would stay dry for feeding to the animals, and having it overhead keeps it out of the way when the farmer is working, housing animals and storing equipment in the barn.
This barn is a bit smaller than some of the others, but it still has a door for the farm equipment to be driven indoors, and it appears that the pedestrian and animal egress is handled through a side door rather than in the front of the building.
Note the door above, showing the entrance to the hayloft. Hay can either be thrown out this window if the animals are outside, or it can be pushed off the edge of the loft if they are inside. This is somewhat of a luxury as it makes feeding much easier for the farmer.
As I stated before, the farmer used the wood from where he cleared the land, in order to build the buildings.
But if there was a lot of rock, many of the buildings were built of rock instead of wood. Partially this is to get rid of some of the rocks so they can farm, aesthetically it is pleasing, and it makes a good solid structure. The rock structures work especially well for the outbuildings that are farther away from the barn and house, where maintenance is somewhat of a problem.
You really have to think ahead and make plans (study and analyze) about how you will set up your farms so everything works to it’s best advantage. Laboring over the buildings, is something you only want to have to do once, and maybe a little fix up here and there.
You don’t want to constantly have to work on the buildings to keep them standing. Anything that takes too much maintenance takes away from the time the farmer has to plant and work the farm. If you don’t work the farm, you don’t make any money.. Time is money for the farms and farmers!
The picture left is an example of a “banked barn” the barn is built into the bank, usually facing the south. If farms don’t have a bank, sometimes the farmers will actually just push the dirt up to the building and form a ramp for the animals to walk up or the equipment to be driven inside.
This barn typically has the upper floor cantilevered over the lower floor. One of the good things about this barn is the land protects and helps to maintain a consistent temperature on the ground level, where the animals are usually housed, this works especially well in the cold winter.
The style allows for the barn to have two levels that can be accessed directly from the ground (allowing easy access for animals), and still leaves the loft for hay storage.
Some farmers built the standard dutch type barn initially, then as the farm grew and prospered they realized they needed much more room for storage, so in a lot of cases the dutch barn’s roof was raised and a new taller gambrel style roof was put on. The Texas barn below might have been the initial barn then the roof raised to add a taller roof for a hayloft later.
It only makes sense if you think about it, they have a perfectly good barn, but need more storage, so why abandon it, and build a new one, when they can save the expense and work of a new one by adding a higher top? Sometimes the roof of these barns would extend almost to the ground!
Gambrel Style Barn
Many people think of the gambrel roof barn as the gold standard of barns or the most beautiful of all barns.
The old barn below was, and probably still is, used as a blacksmith shop, see how all the equipment is placed inside for protection, but oranized perfectly where the operator can access it easily and efficiently? See the vent (top left) over the fireplace that allows the hot air to escape?
I don’t care if the building is brand new or old, falling in, even abandoned, I love the romance of looking at the buildings and imagining the people who used to live here. I can just picture the young wife hanging clothes on the clothesline, or the farmer plowing the fields.
I can visualize the children running around and playing, baseball, or tag you’re it, little girls squealing, little boys chasing them, taunting with a new creature like a frog or lizard. Such an idyllic time in their lives, that they likely won’t realize until they are grown with children of their own!
As much as I love the old barns, and even the new barns, the old houses, water wells, equipment, vehicles like cars and trucks, I love the patriotism and the laid back lifestyle of the American farmer.
Socio-Economic Outlook of Farms and Farming
Social Science Research Network
According to the Social Science Research Network, the adoption of new farm technology is crucial for a farms productivity and development. The farmer’s perception of all the new farming technology has a direct affect on his/her use of this technology. The study determined small farms and farmers are hesitant to use new technology because they think it increases the cost of their production. But generally the relatively large farmers believe these technologies increase their crop’s yield with fewer pests to worry about. In essence the benefits outweigh the extra expenses.The researchers think that there should be extra government assistandce to increase participation of farmers, especially females in agricultural training and workshops. Read the rest of the study information here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2460173
- Do you think farmers make enough money, to make a go of farming on an economic level?
- Is technology necessary for use in farming?
- What do you think about the GMO foods?
I love to drive past the farms on old dirt roads and look at the crops growing, they are laid out as patches in a patchwork quilt!. It seems so healthy as I look at the vegetables in the fields and realize all the people they will feed! Then I start to wonder, are the crops as healthy as they appear? Could the crops I love to watch growing actually not be quite as healthy as they used to be? How do the GMO’s affect our health? According to Greg Conko, a senior fellow at Competitive Enterprise Institute, they are completely safe.
Greg Conko, Competitive Enterprise Institute
This is what Greg Conko, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said when he discussed GMO safety in a March 2014 article in the Washington Examiner. Here is an excerpt:
“The primary thing that makes genetic engineering unique is the power and precision it gives us to make those changes and then test for safety afterward. It has also given us food that is both safer for our families and better for the environment. Plants with a built-in resistance to chewing insects, for example, have allowed farmers to use millions of gallons less pesticide every year.
“Dozens of the world’s most prestigious scientific bodies, including the National Academies of Science, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, have studied genetic engineering for more than 30 years and concluded that such foods are at least as safe as, and often safer than, conventionally bred ones.
“In 30 years of testing and commercial use in more than two dozen countries, genetically modified foods have caused not a single sniffle, sneeze or bellyache.” https://gmoanswers.com/ask/are-genetically-modified-foods-safe?gclid=Cj0KEQjwGreg Conko
Oprah’s Health and Wellness website says it’s too early to know
Do you believe his statements? I’m not sure I do either! So I started reading a little further, and found this on Oprah’s-Health and Wellness website”
The answer is, no one really knows. GM foods have been on the market only since 1994, and research on their long-term effects on humans is scarce. To date most of the studies have been done on animals; worryingly, though, some of those studies link GM foods to altered metabolism, inflammation, kidney and liver malfunction, and reduced fertility. In one experiment, multiple generations of hamsters were fed a diet of GM soy; by the third generation, they were losing the ability to produce offspring, producing about half as many pups as the non-GM soy group.
In addition, allergy sufferers worry that, as genes are transferred between plants, allergenic proteins (from, say, peanuts or wheat) will pop up in unexpected places (like soy or sugar). Richard Goodman, PhD, a professor of food science and technology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a former scientist for Monsanto, says that seed companies run sophisticated tests to prevent that kind of mistake from happening. But inserting new genes into a seed’s delicately constructed genome is always a gamble because scientists can’t predict all the consequences. There is, for example, the possibility of creating brand-new allergens.
Despite the potential health implications, more GM foods appear each year. In 2011 the USDA approved the planting of genetically enhanced sugar beets (sucrose) and alfalfa (hay for livestock). The FDA is expected to okay a fast-growing salmon in the near future. And possibly on the horizon: pigs designed to produce omega-3s. Read more: http://www.oprah.com/health/genetically-modified-foods-affect-health-and-body
So the answer in this article appears to say, GMO foods have only been around about twenty years and it is too soon to know what the outcome will be. Can we live through the “testing” stages to find out? I’m not sure I want to, maybe I will start planting even more of my own food in my garden. That way I at least know what I planted and how I grew it! So I should know what to expect the health implications to be. I will keep checking out more websites on this topic and give you updates periodically.
Now back to my favorite barn picture:
I love to see all the barns with flags hanging in and on them,and the ones with flags painted on their sides. Farmers remember their heritage in a way that many Americans do not!
Why do so many farmers remain so dedicated to this pile of dirt we all live on and call home? Could it be that they are closer to the land than the rest of us? They work it and nourish it, and coax it into feeding the world, maybe that’s why they have so much respect for it. What do you think?
Drop us a line, give us your ideas, can’t wait to hear from you!
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