Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In My Humble Opinion’s-Salute to Agriculture
March 16, 2011

Although I wasn’t raised on a farm, I, like almost every other person residing in Saskatchewan, have very close ties to farming and agriculture. Currently, I am employed at Seed Hawk, the global leader in precision seeding systems, which is located just north of Langbank. Both sets of my grandparents were Saskatchewan farmers and consequently my Dad and Mom were both born on farms and early in their married life they made a living from farming.
In fact, my Mom’s parents and some of her brothers farmed in the Kipling/Bender/Inchkeith districts during the 1920s and early 1930s. Paul Toth currently farms the land that my Grandfather and Uncles last farmed in this area before moving on to greener pastures.
I married a farmer’s daughter and both her parents and grandparents were farmers, too. Some of my sisters married farmers which allowed me the opportunity to enjoy first-hand experience of working on the farm while I stayed with them throughout many a summer break during, and shortly after, my high school years. I really enjoyed a lot of the facets of farming and I treasure the fond memories of those few seasons that I was able to embrace the farming life in my late teens.
Was every aspect of farming life enjoyable? Well, in a word…no. Not to me anyway. My too-keen sense of smell made chicken watering, feeding and egg gathering a hated chore. Shoveling out barley bins in the heat of a hot July day, coupled with my intense hatred of rats which, while hidden, were only a floorboard away from running up my pant leg, was another one of the “I could take a pass on this crap” activities and don’t even get me started on that whole annual chicken butchering fiasco. Yechh!
But, as with all things, you have to take the bad with the good I guess. I can remember cruising up and down the field in an air-conditioned tractor cab doing the summer-fallowing, pulling a “big” sixteen feet of cultivator, and listening to Murray McLaughlin’s “Farmer Song” while eating a cucumber sandwich. Now that wasn’t all that bad.
I learned how to drive in an old ’48 Ford ½ ton truck burning up and down ditchless dirt roads and driving through stubble fields. Driving the grain truck throughout harvest time, though, created some of the fondest memories of my all too brief brush with farming. Unloading the combine hopper “on the go” into the old, aptly named International Harvester grain truck, took precision driving, communication from combine operator to truck operator, mostly with hand signals at that time, and teamwork to get the job done quickly without losing a kernel of grain.
Early mornings spent greasing and preparing the equipment for the long day ahead, enjoying shared meals in the field and the satisfaction of taking off that last swath of a quarter section produced feelings that are beyond description; as are the tastes of a cold beer or a cup of coffee with a freshly baked piece of pie at day’s end.
Everyone is touched by agriculture whether you are a farmer, or you work for a farm implement manufacturer, or an agri-business dealer, or you work at the local grocery store; you are affected by farming. We all have to eat and who else puts that food on our tables?
I am thankful for my farm experiences and I have great admiration and appreciation for all of the hard-working people in the farming trade, as well as for the thousands and thousands of people who work in the many aspects of the agricultural related businesses that contribute to the practice of farming.
“I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman’s cares.”-George Washington (1732-1799).
“Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans upon his hoe and gazes on the ground, the emptiness of ages in his face, and on his back the burden of the world.”- Edwin Markham (1852-1940).

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