By: Erin Oswald
To those of you who grew up on the farm with your family or now handle the family farm, answer this question: What does it mean to you to be a family farm?
I contemplated this question for a long time, trying to pinpoint the exact reason why growing up on the farm with my family and still getting to help in production today is so incredible. Then it hit me this morning. There is no single reason. The reasons are innumerable.
Consider who and what your family farm impacts. Your first thought might jump to the consumer. The consumer isn’t the only one though! In small towns such as Madison, where my family farm is located, the entire town can be affected by our operation. My parents love to support the local businesses they love in and near town. This boosts the economy of our small town. As a small family farm, we seek to minimize costs, so we use our resources to our advantage by spreading hog manure into the fields for fertilizer (Mom likes to snatch some up for her booming gardens too!). Another impact area is the space of these family farms. Near cities, farm ground is being swallowed up for housing developments and other projects. Family farms serve another dual purpose by providing fresh, open spaces. These impact areas of local businesses, smart resource use, and green space are just a few of the ways a family farm can have positive influence. Let’s look at the question from a new perspective now.
So, what does it mean to be a family farm? For me, it begins and ends with the word family. From the time I was born, I was taught to do my part around the farm. Even if it meant riding with Dad to the pork plant early in the morning before I was much taller than the pigs we were hauling. And, as I’m sure you can all agree, with age comes responsibility. My three siblings and I grew around the farm like a tree growing on or around any object in its path. We soaked it all in! We were taught to scrape platforms, help with feedings, give injections, and sort and move hogs on our own. A couple of years ago, being part of my family farm meant getting up at 4:30 A.M. every Tuesday to help Dad sort hogs. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that those weeks made me love the farm more than I thought I could! I became an asset to the farm and noticed that I began saying ‘our’ farm instead of ‘my dad’s’ farm. The farm is ours, my family’s.
And let’s not forget the queen of the operation: Mom. Now answer this question: Would the family farm be as successful (or existent) as it is today without the help and hard work of every mom? I believe the answer is no. On our farm, mom is the heart and soul. She’s always ready to put on her boots and help dad! She won’t turn down a single job, and for good reason: nothing is too big or hard for Mom to handle!
My mom has been the greatest inspiration on our farm for my sisters and I and what it means to truly be a hard worker and diligent and committed mother and wife. My mom, just like the multitude of blessed farm moms, is dedicated to the operation and keeps everyone going each day! I know that without her, this family farm would only be a lowly farm. Thank you, Mom!
With Mother’s Day in the books already for this year, take some extra time to thank your farm mom or wife for everything she does! I know I certainly will!