Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Farming Roots

Isn't that a sweet photo? It's the photo on the cover of a Wisconsin Public Television feature on Wisconsin farming, Jerry Apps: A Farm Story. I watched it last week and found it beautiful, interesting, charming, and humorous. Whether you come from farm stock or just have a curiosity about what it was like to grow up farming in the early 20th century in America, there's a good chance you'd enjoy the documentary.

Watching the film, I was reminded of the ways my parents' childhood farming experiences (during the Great Depression, especially) influenced my own childhood:

*Family size--I have eight siblings.
*Work ethic (no-brainer there)
*We knew how to stretch a dollar.
*We reduced, reused, and recycled long before it was cool. (Mom still rinses out baggies to reuse them.)
*We had homemade taffy-pulls (I'm not even kidding.).
*I learned how to mend, pulling socks over light bulbs in order to patch holes, for example. (I can't remember the last time I sewed a hole in a sock in my adult life.)
*When our boots wore out their waterproofing, we wore bread bags on our feet inside them, to make them last a little longer.
*When a new neighbor moved in, we brought cookies or something else. I still enjoy doing this today.
*We had homemade bread often (but not always, because we needed store-bought bread bags for those boots, remember!haha)
*We were never allowed to sleep-in.
*We learned to appreciate the simple things--new mittens (homemade, of course) and pajamas from Santa, for example.
*We sang through most of our chores

The number of family farms in America hit its peak in 1935 and has steadily declined ever since. According to the U.S. EPA, only one percent of Americans claim farming as an occupation. Knowing the values born out of family farms, I think that's a shame. There's a lot to appreciate about farming culture, and I'm glad Wisconsin Public Television thinks so, too.

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