Until December 23, 2010, I was a city girl. I had daily lattes, shopped a little too often, relied on public transportation, and rejected the thought of ever living in the country. When my husband and I decided to leave it all for West Texas to farm, life changed completely. Read my “Farmwife Confessions” to learn about the transition.
It has been 2.5 years since Russell and I packed up and moved to rural Texas. I drove around the farm today and was reminded how much I still don’t know about farming. Like, please don’t give me a tractor pop quiz. Please do not ask me what a boll buggy is or what it does. I could not tell you… I don’t have a single clue.
But, I have also learned so much. (Like what the best weather apps are. Or how to check sprinklers.) Whenever I read or hear people’s perceptions of farming, I’m often blown away by how much those perceptions don’t match up with our everyday reality. But, then I remind myself that I used to think Russell had to break ice OFF of the cows (seriously, what?!) – and I remember again how foreign this world is to people who haven’t ever witnessed it firsthand.
I had to remind myself of this recently when someone on Facebook posted a graphic about corn farmers:
To me, this idea of “corporate farming” is one of the most misleading concepts floating around the food production part of the modern zietgiest. I’ve heard people complain that Monsanto and other megacorporations grow our food instead of family farmers. And for some foods, it might be true that megacorporations grow and market food directly. It’s definitely common in meat production. And, I’m guessing, Dole probably owns and produces most of the pineapples in the US.
But, corn is not one of those foods owned by megacorporations. (In fact, according to the USDA, as cited by the Corn Farmers Coalition, 95% of corn farms are family owned, and 90% of corn is produced on family farms, as cited by the National Corn Growers Association.)
When I press people about what they mean by “corporate farming,” they always talk about huge farms, with lots of machines doing the work, and tons of employees. Well, Russell’s family has over 15,000 acres, way more tractors than any of us wives care to count, and several employees. I guess that makes the Williams family a corporation, according to so many uninformed people’s definitions.
I took lunch to Russell and his father today, just the two of them working a very long day on a Saturday to tend their corn crop (not wearing or needing hazmat suits, I might point out…). I can’t think of a better illustration that our farm, like most other corn farms across our country, is a family operation. Fathers farm alongside their sons. Brothers work together to plant, care for, and harvest the best quality crop possible. It brings together aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins. Family dinners become business meetings. Everyone stays awake at night praying for rain.
After we finished lunch, I took a few photos of our “corporate” farm. These are real – true – photos of a corn and grain farm. No hazmat suits. No corporations. Just the love, dedication, and hard work of a family of farmers.