Why Young Farmers Grow Up To Be Responsible Adults

| 11/5/2015 9:04:00 AM


 “You mind holding that door for me, bud?”

The young Salatin boy, one of Daniel’s, holds the door of the hoop house open for me while I step over the board that’s holding back the bedding, and I step into the winter world of the chickens.

I was there that fine frozen morning to tend to the hundreds of birds that we had brought in to weather the cold Virginia winter. The little fella was there to take care of his ducks and gather their eggs. We worked side by side for a bit, me opening nest boxes to allow the chickens to begin their day of laying, while he carried a half-full bucket of water over and topped off the duck’s rubber pan. We spoke now and then, but this wasn’t the first time we had completed these repetitive tasks, and we mostly just went about our business. In some ways this situation, one in which I find myself working alongside a much younger farmer (call him a kid, young adult, whatever, I prefer young farmer) is familiar to me, and it strikes me that I am very fortunate to not find this a novelty.

I grew up in a large family. Not on a farm per say but, thanks to my parents, we were always doing some level of homesteading.  Nothing big or fancy, but things that would put good food on the table. Through this form of childhood, I was on the receiving end of some crazy awesome instruction. More fundamental and hands-on as opposed to audible theory. It was a childhood that I can now look back on and see a few of the many ways that working outside with my parents and being responsible for the lives of several animals has influenced my life.

So, here I am, starting my own farming venture. I look back to when I was a young farmer. I also look back at my time with Polyface where I got to watch three different generations work together. I got an up close and personal look at what family farming is, with all the wonderful, laughing, exhilarating highs, and the snapping from frustration, yell at the kids, I can’t deal with my family right now lows. It seems that a family business is going to have both sides. It’s the nature of the beast.

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