Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Rejected Writer, The Rejected Farmer.

I am an enigma. An outcast. A reject. A freak.

   When I think about where I try to fit in, in the agriculture world, I realize that I am all these names I have libeled myself as. Truth is, I don't fit in anywhere in particular. I want to fit in, but I'm so middle of the road that both sides reject me. 

   I often times look around on the websites of varying organizations and magazines; looking to see if there's a position available for another writer (meaning me), and trying to get a feel for the place and what would be expected of a writer. And I keep coming to the same dilemma over and over again: I'm not passionate enough for the groups. The websites that naturally grab my attention are the ones that are for small farming practices, sustainable farming, grass based ideas... You get the idea. The problem is that I'm not willing to verbally slam the big farms. I can't bring myself to slander and yell at the farmers who grow corn and soy, and raise animals by the thousands in small barns. Yes I know that ultimately corn and soy crops aren't sustainable, and that the confinement barns are causing some serious problems with the ecosystem. But that doesn't mean that *I* want to degrade the people who do these things. They're human too, you know. These things are the livelihoods of folks, they rarely do their way of farming for money (in the end, do ANY of them!?), and frankly, we need them. The small farmers have a long way to go before we can replace the large farms (*gasp* did I just say that!? You bet I did!). Until we can figure out how to utilize our land in the most efficient manner possible, bring food prices down to something decent ($16 for a gallon of milk is not decent, in my book), and we can provide food year around for folks (because no matter how much we tell folks to start canning and freezing, not everyone will do it), we need those big farms. Yep, the confinement barns and GMO's are a big problem. But they're not going anywhere until we small farmers get off our rears, get outside (off of this blog!) and start doing everything we can to make things better (granted, we'll need political help too; so the lawyers and politicians better get busy as well). 

   Okay, so the "green", eco-friendly, small farming, Prius driving, $16-for-a-gallon-of-milk paying groups don't want me. I'm obviously not passionate enough about small farming and saving the world (please note the dripping sarcasm in this sentence) since I won't do my part in trying to send the big farmers on a guilt trip, and shaming the general public for eating store bought ground beef and buying 2% milk from the dairy aisle. So what does a freelance writer do? Well shucks, if that side of the pendulum won't accept me, what about the other side?

   Yeah. The "dark side". Oooh we're gettin' scary now. Wading deep into the belly of the beast, and brushing shoulders with folks who consider a 500 cow dairy to be "small". For the most part I feel lost in this group. I wander around forums and websites, gleaning information and getting a feel for these people. I can relate to a lot with these people, and feel pretty comfortable around them; in fact I think I'm more comfortable with this group, than the first group of folks I mentioned. These people are down to earth, skeptical about the global warming theory, know their way around back roads, and make jokes about PETA members. But I become an outcast in this area too. No writing positions available because, in all honesty, I'm a bit of a freak to them. I know about mob stocking cattle and raising broilers in chicken tractors. I can only have two cows because I leave my milk raw. I know how to whip up herbal remedies for sick animals. I think GMO's are wrong. 

   I can be so similar to each group, yet so different. Neither one wants me because I feel compassion towards the other instead of a bristling hostility. I so badly want to be writing more than I currently am. I want to be broadening my experiences on new and various platforms here in cyber space. But I seem to be hitting a wall. I can't give these organizations my 100% loyalty because I believe in balance; and since that's the case, no one wants me. Ouch. I feel like two people in one; half of me likes and wants to be in the circle of small farming, elitist people who will pay whatever price I tell them, organic everything, heritage livestock, solar power... I've been in this circle enough years to know my way around and understand it. But then the other part of me resists this circle. It's the part of me that loves the backroads lifestyle of hunting, fishing, mud, drawls, huge tractors and combines, cash crops, big dairies, fast growing, commercial breeds of animals, and prices that middle-class people can afford. I know this circle pretty well too. I may not know it as well as the small farming group, but I know it well enough to realize that this group feels normal and comfortable to me; whereas I feel a bit like a fraud in the first group since I like to grow Cornish Cross broilers, and I feel that the majority of dairy cows should receive grain. 

  Why can't there be an organization or some online place that is of the same middle-of-the-road thinking?? You know, some place that's "normal" (my idea of normal, that is. Probably not yours. LOL.), where instead of bashing the opposite side of thinking, we spend our time looking for ways to work towards the mutual goal that each side has, which is growing food for people in the most economic, efficient and sustainable manner? Why not try to blend these conflicting, arguing, name-calling sides, taking the best ideas from both and creating the brain child that turns out to be better? I see these things happening already; that's how we came up with electrified netting for fencing, and fodder is quickly becoming popular on large farms. What if the fodder worked so well for dairy farms that the farmers didn't need corn silage? So instead of turning the corn stalks into fermented feed, what if they put 10-20 hogs to the acre of that corn and let them "hog down" all that green material and grow fat on it (supplemented with other feeds of course)? Is it more profitable to hog down the stalks, or ferment it and feed it to dairy cows? And how many cows will an acre of silage feed, anyway? Maybe in the end it really would be more profitable to hog it down... Or maybe not. Sorry guys... I'm rambling here and losing track of where I was going with this. It happens when I need a nap. ;) 

   When all is said and done, I'm still an outcast and a freak. A freelance writer who doesn't seem to be wanted anywhere. But then, that's why I have this blog. So I can be my own editor and not have to try and fit in anywhere in particular. Who knows though, maybe I'll eventually find a place or two where my oddities are welcomed and I won't be expected to verbally bash anyone... A girl can dream, anyway. 


FeyWind said...

WE love you. Just as you are. *warm smile* Keep on writing, and we'll keep on reading.

Amy H. said...

I get what you are saying, but you aren't a freak, that is, unless I am too. I don't cotton to either groups philosophy of their group only being the right way. And, I don't fit in because I don't own a couple hundred acres (just under three!), so try asking someone how to grow alfalfa on a half acre, either group really, and see what they say. It just so happens that you might be the shout-out for a third and reemerging group, that of the small homestead farm. The ones that grew gardens in the city, or rabbits on their back porch, because that was the space they had, are the same kind of people today that are trying to grow their own hay for their goats on a half acre, and tomatoes without pesticides for their families on a back patio. And you, my friend, are a voice for us. Because we fall in between the cracks; no one hears us. We don't control a huge crop market like the mega-farmers, and we aren't fanatic enough to fit in with the die-hard "save the world with organic low-fat soy milk" people. So, could it be that you are not a freak, but just the herald of a new breed?

Goat Song said...

You two have just made my day! ^_^ Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

I hear you!

I wonder about people who complain about the conditions of factory farm animals like chickens, yet have never actually been to a factory farm and they don't raise chickens themselves.

My daughters and I toured a state of the art laying hen facility with our local 4H group that houses 250,000 birds per house with 6 houses on that site. It was clean and birds looked healthy and well cared for. The facility was completely self contained. NO Ammonial smell at all and they even burned the chicken waste to generate electricity with zero emmissions. Not every facility is that well run, but big Ag is moving forward with better management practices as technology improves.

Can you imagine the environmental fall out of billions of chickens being raised free range or in tractors to satisfy demand? What a mess, the nitrogen run off into our waterways would be a disaster.

I raise my own birds for eggs and meat for my family on a small scale. We need people who do what we do and we need the factory farms. There are too many people in this world to feed which would be impossible without large scale farming.

Heather in PA