Monday, January 23, 2006

Farming and the apocalypse

I’ve notice that many people seem to associate farming with some possible apocalyptic future. I don’t mean agribusiness, I mean small-scale “homesteader” type farming.

No one has ever suggested to me that doing this sort of thing will cause civilization to come to a bad end, but rather that personally raising lots of animals and vegetables is somehow part of preparing for some sort of “Mad Max beyond the thunder dome” post nuclear future.

I raise several batches of broiler chickens each year. I butcher them here on the farm and insist that people that want to buy them come to the farm and pick them up. I do it this way because I think I can raise a better bird that the Tyson’s people, but I know I can’t compete with them in materials handling and packaging, so I don’t try.

I generally clean birds in the morning and have folks come in the afternoon to get them, having arranged that well in advance. They bring coolers and we pull them right out of the chill tank.

New customers almost always make some sort of “Come the revolution, you’ll be all set” sort of comment. I don’t do this to prepare for the end of the industrial age of course, I do it because I enjoy it and to make money.

Cowboys are not a dieing breed, they’re just real hard to see from the highway.”
Baxter Black

I also know (and know of) traditional family farmers shifting from “cash grain” operations to some sort of low input cost, direct or niche marketing operation.

This can sometimes be a rather desperate attempt to preserve several generations of tradition by changing nearly everything about the family farm. Attempting to avoid a catastrophe that is no less real for being aimed at one clan rather than a whole culture.

It’s not the changes that usually cause the strain but the putting them off for so long.

Also I enjoy reading and dealing with the “Christian Agrarian” folks. I have nothing but respect for these folks, they make the best of neighbors and making a handshake deal with them gives you something more solid that most corporate mergers.

If I were a more serious fellow, I’d be one of them. Maybe I will be when (and if) I grow up, but I don’t think my “lapsed Catholic hobby farmer” is quite the same thing.

The point I’m trying to make is that for me this sort of independent rural “kill it and grill it” lifestyle is not something to be done when or in case the output of MRE's from the modern world is interrupted. I do it because I can. Because I prefer it.

No comments: