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Date:11/23/2014 12:00:53 PM
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The Hoe, Part V, Hobby Farms and Lobby Farms
My Punky, my daughter Amanda, is now happily employed working for a huge farming operation out west. As she texted her mother, (and I paraphrase) "I love my job! Today I get to ride an ATV with a sprayer attached and kill stuff!" She was referring of course, to using herbicides on acres and acres of corn and soybeans. Amanda works with her man Matt, who supervises several combine crews harvesting everything from wheat, corn, and soybeans, from Texas to North Dakota. I'm can't compromise anyone's privacy by giving specifics, but Punky has found her dream job working the harvest for large family-run business. I am even more proud of the fact that she has had tremendous success in putting in her first garden where she lives. I get a kick out of hearing from her that after a day working on fields of a thousand acres or more, she and Matt will stay up late and can pickles from her home garden.

I love agriculture! American agriculture runs the gamut from corporate farms worth countless millions and who have the ear of local Congressmen to the people you see at the local farmers' market (like the Farmwife) and further on down to the hobby farmer like myself and Eldest Brother David and Dear Belle-soeur Susie, who can't keep from wanting to grow things. I thought of the silly moniker "Hobby Farms and Lobby Farms" to express the concept for this post but I kinda like the term. Some people, like Matt, go from the family dairy farm to mega-farming. Others, like Susie go from the same sort of family dairy farm to hobby farming. David, Big Brother Tommy, and I grew up with cows, pigs, chickens, and ducks and some cash cropping thrown in. (There will be future blogs about pickle-picking!) The old saying is that "A farmer has dirt in his veins." This means, of course, is that growing up on the land stays with a person throughout all his or her life.

Amanda told us that she was surprised when Matt admitted to her that he had never seen anyone do any canning while he was growing up. The two of them started a new tradition of their own that night and as one of my Native ancestors would say, "It is a good thing to see." It also amuses my Ruthie and me to hear from Amanda that she and Matt have more than once exclaimed, "Oh God, we're just like our parents!"

Is it too much of a stretch to tie all of this to the hoe? (Perhaps) But what I'm getting at is that all levels of agriculture have at their roots (pun, for once, not intended) the simple act of growing and nurturing in order to feed oneself and one's family. For a Countryman, growing things is a very personal experience, no matter at what level he or she farms. I think J. R. R. Tolkien embraced the concept splendidly when he describes the thoughts of gardener Sam Gamgee in "The Lord of the Rings:"

"The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command." -- Gary
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