Monday, May 03, 2021

What's wrong with being a farmer?

She made this letter H in the garage with her big brother, Sidge. Seeing her pride, their teamwork, and the skills my children are acquiring here on the farm, makes my heart soar as a mother.

It isn't just the farming and outdoor skills. It's the fact that Grampa and Grama live here too, and Grama is going to do a Home Economics class with my boys next year. 

Yes we are learning to read and doing math. As a former English teacher, I put great effort into the "book" education my children are receiving.

However, for the last 20 years (maybe more?) our society has gradually shifted to rewarding "book learning" and placing it "above" other work. We encourage it. All kids should try to go to college. They should get jobs. Real jobs. 

Who decided what a real job was?

What is wrong with being a farmer? A welder? A mechanic? Why do we somehow view these jobs as "less than" professions?

Our country is facing a chronic welder shortage. By 2024, we will be facing a deficit of 400,000 workers. This is because of welders aging out and new welders not entering the workforce at the same pace. This is because our country started encouraging everyone to go to college. The trade schools were deemed as a place where the "not-as-smart-kids" went. But welders average between $32 and 51,000 a year ... They usually make $17-$21 an hour. It isn't a shabby profession. And it requires less schooling, less debt, and guaranteed employment.

And yet, we don't encourage our children to be welders. 


Kristin Kimball articulated my feelings on this topic nearly perfectly for me in her book The Dirty Life:

“I had come to the farm with the unarticulated belief that concrete things were for dumb people and abstract things were for smart people. I thought the physical world — the trades — was the place you ended up if you weren’t bright enough or ambitious enough to handle a white-collar job. Did I really think that a person with a genius for fixing engines, or for building, or for husbanding cows, was less brilliant than a person who writes ad copy or interprets the law? Apparently I did, though it amazes me now.” 

What happened to learning how to cook? To forage? To build? To operate machinery? To tend animals? To kill those animals? To garden? To hoe? To fix an engine yourself? Welders. Boat mechanics. Plumbers. These are good professions. 

Here's a video of my son, Sidge, learning how to drive our tractor. Sidge is a smart kid. He may want to go to college. But if he just wants to drive a tractor? That's okay too.

My husband went to college. So did his father. But his father has spent his career building and tending to homes as a contractor. They are currently using those skills (accompanied by our great friend, Jacob) to build a brooder behind our garage:

This brooder would cost soooo much more money to hire someone else to build it for them. But they don't need to because John's father has acquired skills that he has passed (and continues to pass) onto his children ..


1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm not going to give a negative comment about any of the highly "educated" kids in my family but I rely on those who repair my ancient washer and dryer and tell me "no, don't get new ones as long as I can fix them." Same with the guy who replaced a vinyl hose to my refrigerator's ice maker, even older. I need the fellow who comes and mows my big yard after a full-time job. They are not dumb but they are filled with common sense and a desire to help and work hard for others. The lady who does my hair, the one who fills my order at the market... I need them and admire them, but in the same way I need and admire the educated. I need your writings, too!