23 August

My Farmer And Me: A Guest Blog By Carol Gulley

by Jon Katz
My Farmer And Me
My Farmer And Me
Every farmer I know has a chip on his or her shoulder. This is caused by the growing disconnection in America between people and farming, the natural world, and the real lives of animals. The economists and politicians have abandoned rural life, there are not enough votes in rural communities, not enough money or lobbyists or Super Pacs for small farmers to be considered important in the new global economy.
We have forgotten what people are for in the new workplace. In our lazy and spoiled urban culture, we take it for granted we will have plenty of good food to eat and milk for our children. We no longer have any idea where this bounty comes from, how it is grown and prepared, who the people are who work so hard for so little to prepare it, or how much money they really earn.
In the Corporate  Nation, it is the big corporate farms who make money, buy land, hire lobbyists and own members of congress.
We have mostly forgotten the small family farmer, they are not media savvy people, they are far too busy to spend a lot of time on Facebook.
  I have been taking pictures of dairy farmers for some years now, many have become good friends. They are a proud and ferociously hard working lot, it seems that the entire deck of the economic and political and regulatory system is stacked against. They are continuously tormented by so-called animal rights activists who know nothing of farming or animals, and forgotten by the people who benefit them the most – people who eat and drink milk.
I hope to do my small part to see that they are not forgotten. The are the nicest people and the most fervent animal lovers that I know. And perhaps the most politically naive, they are faithfully loyal to the very people who have left them to the wolves. They are a vanishing breed.
Once in awhile, we hear a farmer’s voice rising up out of the din to speak up for themselves and their fading way of life. This week, the farmers around me are gathering for the Washington County Fair, a huge agricultural fair where no beautify and healthy farmer-grown food is ever displayed, only fried cheese sticks, cotton candy and corn dogs and 58 flavors of ice cream, some of it deep fried
  Friday, at dinner, my friend Carol Gully told me of an encounter she had at the supermarket, it made  her blood boil. I urged her to write it, and last night, she spent two  hours at her computer, the new one, the first one she and Ed have ever owned (I don’t think Ed has yet to be on it.) I loved what she wrote, helped  her finish it, and asked her if I could put it on the blog before the county fair opens in a few days. She said sure. Carol has been standing by her farmer man, as she calls him, for many years.
MY FARMER AND ME, by Carol Gulley, Bejosh Farm
“Something happened recently to me that got me thinking about our lifestyle – Ed and I are both dairy farmers – in a different sort of way. It was something that got me angry, but I decided to be positive about it and write about how it made me feel.

I was in the grocery, and there was a woman in line in front of me. She was talking loudly and I realized she was blasting “farmers,” not just dairy farmers but farmers of every kind. She was blaming farmers for the rising cost of food, from dairy to beef to vegetables and fruit.

It turned out she had a lot of things about farmers on her troubled mind, and they were all coming out of her mouth. So I listened while she was commenting on the cost of meat and fruit. She might go broke, she claimed, but “the farmers,” as she referred to them, would never be destitute.

“They make so much on what they sell,” she said, “they are never content or satisfied with what they have.”

Needless to say, this upset me, we have been dairy farmers for more than 30 years. She  made me realize once again, and not for the first time,  how little people know about where their food comes from or about the people who make and grow and send it to them. They just eat it, and know that when they go to the market, it will be there, they have never had to go hungry or been without healthy food for their dinner table. There are many people in the world who will never know that wonderful gift.

Oh, if she knew just what Ed and I make on the milk we produce.. My Farmer And Me. I kept listening to her, and she kept talking. She said she worked from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m five days a week and not a moment more in order to make enough money for the things she had to buy.

By that time I was fuming, and I realized I had heard enough. I just wanted to make her see the truth about what she was talking about.

So I said “excuse me, let me tell you about My Farmer and Me. Each day we wake at 6 a.m. to milk and feed our 60 or so cows. Their babies are fed and cleaned before we take our breakfast in the house. Every animal on our farm eats before we do, chickens, goats, cows, dogs. Four seasons are spend fighting rain, snow, heat and drought to make sure our animals are healthy and properly cared for beyond any doubt.

 My husband and I do ever bit of work on our farm, from milking cows to fixing tractors to repairing fences and gates and haying.

We enjoy the smell of newly moved hay or fresh cut corn at night, this life is a privilege we earn through hard work and that is a right we deserve.”

I told her the animals get taken care of on Christmas before gifts are opened and on Easter before eggs are painted and hidden and found. The heart of this farmer is the welfare of the animals on this farm.

And for your information, I added, a year ago we were making $25 or so for 100 lbs of milk. This year the price is down to $16. How would you feel if that happened to your weekly paycheck, which stays the same no matter what the weather or some bureaucrat in Washington thinks. Wouldn’t that give you something to complain about in line?

You can have your five-day work week and be all that  you can be.

My Farmer And Me do not complain about our lives, but sometimes we feel the need to explain it and we wish more people understood it. We love the satisfaction of hard work, the thrill of living on a farm, we love the animals in our care, our family works just as hard as we do, seven days a week, they have all of their lives. We love making good and healthy food for people like you, even though you don’t seem to have the grace to understand or appreciate what we do for you and your family.

I wished her a good and healthy life. My farmer and me will work hard every day to see that gets one.

– August 23, 2015, Bejosh Farm, White Creek, N.Y.

Email SignupFree Email Signup