Tuesday, July 26, 2011

But That Was Then and This Is Now

Two Thoughts for Tuesday

First Thought  ....Farms are changing

In the forty years that I have been married to my husband  I have seen big changes in family farms. Farms, even of the family farm variety have gotten bigger but fewer people stay in the profession.  In the case of my husband's family farm,  only  one of the brothers  remains committed to stay "on the farm" AND two brothers decided to be silent (well...maybe  not so silent) partners keeping their farm in the family.  My husband is one of  those brothers.  That is not to say that he isn't committed to making it a sustainable business and takes pride in the farming way of life. 

The farming community (at least the group around Iroquois County) is made up of a close knit, supportive, hardworking group of families that are just good people.

My 2nd thought:    Being a farmer isn't for the faint of heart. 

This is what barns used to look like.

This is what barns look like today.

Drought effects on corn crops 40 years ago

Today farmers might handle drought with one of these

I was chatting with some of the older farmers at the Iroquois fair over the weekend about the cost of tractors and such.  I am a total nerd that way. 

They tell me that in 1951 they probably paid $2300 for tractor like this one.

Those days are long gone....

Today's tractors have on-board computers that have GPS technology and keep the rows from overlapping, keep the operator nice and cool in the air conditioning and a farmer can plug in his ipod or talk hands free with built in bluetooth technology.  While you might not think of a tractor as needing bells and whistles, a tractor like this can plant large acreages more efficiently with less fuel and less waste of seed and chemicals. From the farmer's point of view, he can work a lot more hours and conduct business without "beating himself up" as in the days of the older tractors.  Productivity is a good thing.

But all of this has raised the price a bit.  This tractor would cost in the neighborhood of $300,000.

The end result is perfectly planted rows.
Doesn't my BIL do a good job?

End of the row on part of my husband's crop

If you missed the turn coming out of the driveway you would be covered in corn.

Soybeans, the all purpose bean

I will say that my husband and my brother-in-law  think I have lost my mind standing out in the yard taking pictures of the corn and beans. 

If I were to write up a bucket list, I think one of the things I would like to do is try driving that tractor.  I have dropped a few hints to both husband and brother-in-law but so far they think I am trying to be funny.
And when I say funny...I mean they think I am being ridiculous.   I might point out that I have never had a wreck with a tractor yet.  (how dare they point out that is because they haven't let me drive one yet)

Not to be denied without a fight,   I have given them a second option as well.  If they don't want to let me loose on the tractor there is a semi trailer truck that I could give a try.  I am thinking an 18 wheeler could be fun to drive.  Surely someone could show me how to shift 18 gears.  How hard can it be???

The Good for the day....I have a gem of  a brother-in-law and he is married to a gem thus giving me a equally great sister-in-law.

The Bad for the day....Farmers are under appreciated in a lot of cases.  It is harder and harder to stay competitive.  You have to really work smart to get the yields you need.

The Weird for the day...The cost of equipment

A new combine with corn heads would cost nearly a half million dollars....nearly...not quite $500,000 --That is a lot of corn and beans!!!!

In the weekend Kankakee paper

The cows seem to be liking the center pivot irrigation as well. 

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meleahrebeccah said...

I could NEVER handle living on a FARM. But, I would like to try driving that tractor, too!

Cheryl P. said...

I think I would like it better than my husband. He grew up on a farm and has had enough rural living. I think I would enjoy the solitude and not having neighbors so close. But, yeah, I still want to drive a tractor.

meleahrebeccah said...

Yeah, I'm a fan of concrete, and asphalt, and the suburbs.

Aleta said...

Please tell your husband and brother in law that they are appreciated by us bloggers! I love fresh veggies - so very important! My Thanks to them!!
"If I were to write up a bucket list, I think one of the things I would like to do is try driving that tractor." - Me too! I'd love to do that!

Cheryl P. said...

Suburbs are a good place to be, also. Just like right now I have to go buy some lettuce and I am less than 5 minutes away. Very handy!!!

Cheryl P. said...

You are so nice.

I will at some point get them to let me drive it. I will let you know if it is fun. I didn't want to be too big of pest this weekend as my brother-in-law is the President of the fair board and was busy. Next time we are home he has no excuse not to let me try driving it.

Trina said...

We live in a farming community here too and it has changed so very much in the last 15 years. I was shocked to hear one of the boys laughing at another boy about his hard day.. "What did your Ipod cut out?" I was confused and later learned that with the GPS technology in the tractors he drives he only has the actually drive around the field once, setting the coordinated in the GPS and then kick back and let the tractor do the work. He spends the rest of the day (depending on the field size of course) watching DVDs, listening to his IPOD, or talking on his phone. It's crazy!

I do imagine that the tractor he drives is worth more than my whole farm LOL That's crazy too! But, I suppose, whatever it takes to get the job done efficiently it's worth it in the long run.

Great pictures by the way!

Jewell said...

Poor farmers get the shaft (no pun intended....this time)... The small farms are getting run out on a rail by large corporations, and larger more self sustained farms still don't have it easy. If it isn't the government giving them problems in one form or another or Mother Nature is throwing a pissy fit...farming is not an easy life and yet it's such an important culture!

And I give 2 thumbs up on the Tim McGraw songs =) great choice! =) xo

Cheryl P. said...

It is crazy that the tractors self steer now with the exception of the end of the row. I think that it all has gotten complicated. With today's equipment one guy like my brother-in-law can do more than a thousand acres by himself where it used to take 4 or 5 guys. He still has to work like a dog to get it done but he seems to like farming.

I have the utmost respect for any family that still farms on any level.

Cheryl P. said...

Everything you just said, I totally agree with. I don't understand how the government doesn't understand that a healthy economy is dependent on both the housing market and the agricultural sector, yet they continue to impose legislation that is counter productive to both of those industries.

oldereyes said...

Hi, Cheryl -

I am a suburbanite, always have been. So this post was very interesting, particularly the hi-tech, hi-cost tractors. Hye, I think they should let you drive it. How much damage could you do?


Wolfbernz said...

Hi Cheryl

You hit that right on the money, Things have changed considerably.

The younger men don't want to farm either, the average age of a farmer last time I read it was sixty five years of age.
I think that the farmer is way under appreciated, it's hard work no matter what tractor you are on. Kudos to your hubby and brother in law :)

Clicks for a great post!

Cheryl P. said...

I am laughing, really, out loud laughing. I can imagine me screaming "How in the hell do you stop this thing?" Oh well, what is 300K more or less as I am running it through a barn wall. All kidding aside, my husband and his brother are SUPER nice and they will let me try at some point. I need to coincide a trip when BIL isn't busy using it to farm. I am equally wanting to try the 18 wheeler. Have you ever driven a semi?

Cheryl P. said...

Thank you Wolf. You are so right. When I visit with the farmers around the fair, nearly all of them are past the age that most people retire. Such nice decent, hard working families.

Kimberly Wyatt said...

This is so true! My grandpa bought his farm right after WWII, and he and his seven children are still the ones who work it. It was 1,700 acres originally, but he's sold off about a thousand to a neighbor. It also used to be primarily dairy, but my grandpa has started raising beef cattle as well. Still tons of work, but NOTHING like a dairy farm.

I'm loving these pictures. And yes, farm equipment is way too freaking expensive.

Good luck learning to drive the tractor!

Cheryl P. said...

Livestock is a lot of work for sure and dairy farms...OMG ridiculous amount of work. Have you ever have the opportunity to visit the Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana?
I remember you said you have driven to Bloomington in the past. Fair Oaks is between Chicago and Indianapolis. Huge dairy farm with over 30,000 cows but they produce all their own feed and power all their delivery trucks with biomethane made from the cow manure. The dairy has a huge kids zone that is like a "dairy museum".

I probably need some luck with learning to drive the tractor.