Let's encourage the farmers of the future
I always think I have a fool-proof system for getting the hogs trailered-up and to the butcher. I mean, we've done this routine several times over the years, so the family pretty much knows what to expect and how to handle it; except for the part where husband is out of town, and the other part where the hogs won't do back-flips (for a carrot) into a narrow tin can on wheels headed for you-know-where.
So, I had to ask my generous neighbor to bring a bigger trailer, and a lot more brawn, to save my bacon and get me to the butcher on time; because, do you know how long the waiting list for an appointment at the butcher is these days? In the end, the pigs made it for their appointment with destiny, but the whole ordeal reminded me that, even though I've been living the small-farm life for most of my life, it's still not simple and should never be taken for granted or carried out alone. There's a dang good reason why all the ranchers around here wave at each other as their rigs pass on the road, or take time to visit over a corndog at the Country Store in Powell Butte; they've helped each other on more than one occasion, whether in the middle of the day or the middle of the night.
There's a bond that forms when people work hard together and absolutely nothing about the life's work of bringing food from the farm to the table is ordinary, formulaic, or elementary. The farmers and ranchers among us will often put in a good 40 hours of work by Tuesday! They are part mechanic, geologist, meteorologist, accountant, surveyor, veterinarian, horticulturist, chemist, human resources specialist, and so much more. So, let's not forget to do our part in training up the next generation of farmers.
Many families are beginning to prepare their 4-H or FFA, or open-class livestock and exhibits, for county fair season (some for the very first time). Consider loaning a novice family your trailer or donate that loading ramp you built for your kids that now collects dust in the barn. Maybe, offer your photography or quilting expertise at a 4-H meeting, or just show up and bid the heck out of the neighbor kid's animal at the livestock auction when the time comes.
The rural lifestyle we enjoy in Central Oregon brings joy and a healthy dose of humility, and it's a gift worth passing on to those who want to make it their lifestyle too. Season by season, they are going to need us, whether they know it the night before they load the hogs into the trailer or not.
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