Marla and I decided we would go to the Kutztown Folk festival in Kutztown PA.
The festival is a celebration of the cultural life of the early German folks who settled the southeast part of Pennsylvania. I enjoy history and agriculture and the Kutztown Folk Festival does a good job of combining these two interests so we looked forward to going. Once there we began taking in the usual exhibits. A young Amish boy explaining how to make sauerkraut, some men demonstrating the traditional skills of barn building, a nice display of vintage agricultural equipment; all of these fit nicely into the stated theme of the festival and were enjoyable exhibits. As we walked the aisles between the exhibits I saw something that I knew I would have to check out - a stand selling books. As I perused the small vendor area I saw a book I was immediately drawn to. There, a pleasingly sized hardback titled: FARMING, ALWAYS FARMING drew me in like a mouse to cheese. The title hooked me before I even opened the front cover.
Another reason for "always farming" was the shear necessity of it all. Every person in the country wants to eat three times a day, so thats a lot of farming that needs to be done. But necessity is not the only reason for living an agrarian life.
Another interesting thing about this book was the amount of people that were found in the photographs on these pages. Yes, there are many pictures of just farm scenery, but there are quite often a plurality of people in pictures where any kind of farm work is involved. In farming days of yore, humans and animals provided the primary power source for the farm. Farming was labor intensive therefore large families and community help were the order of the day. The work was demanding, but the company of family and/or friends, and the realization that your everyday work was needed and meaningful
went a long way toward making the work downright enjoyable for most.
(While most 21st century Americans are glad they have been "delivered" from the manual labor of farm work, they interestingly enough also despise the shallowness and boredom of the cubicle culture they have chosen to embrace.)
In today's agriculture people do not dominate the landscape, if fact they are pretty hard to find. Machines began replacing people more than a hundred years ago. So much so that most small, midwestern, farming towns are having a hard time staying open for business. More often than not schools, churches and Main Street are in steep decline primarily because machines have replaced people and because large farms have replaced small farms. When large acreage farms with large machines are the order of the day, the result, wether intentional or not is less people on the farm. The "typical farm picture" of today is that of a single farmer aboard his air-conditioned, GPS-driven machine, high above the land and the crop, in a field as big as the eye can see, sadly, without another human in sight.
But the good news is that the agrarian tide is turning. People are once again returning in greater numbers to the farm-landscape as folks rediscover the beauty of human-size farms. The emerging farmer of today is much more likely to consider the benefits (economic and otherwise) of small-scale, organic, natural, diversified farming. This is good news for good faming - always farming.
Stay warm my friends! !