On the drive home yesterday, the change in the colour of the leaves and the heavy dew on the grass this morning is a reminder that Fall is on its way here in South Western Ontario. It’s a real shame because there’s a strong sense that we didn’t have much of a summer. Our normal hot and incredibly humid weather just didn’t arrive in July.
On the drive, it’s not uncommon to see farmers and agricultural workers our in the fields. I must admit that I’m not completely unbiased as I type on here. I grew up in some of the best farmland in Ontario, in Huron County, and had a great deal of related jobs as a student at elementary and secondary school. Over the years, I have:
- pulled weeds;
- picked mustard;
- picked asparagus;
- caught chickens;
- caught turkeys;
- worked as a second hand;
- planted, weeded, and picked cucumbers;
- milked cows;
- bailed straw and hay;
- fed cattle;
- cleaned barns;
- and probably other things that don’t come to mind now.
It’s hard physical work but has given me a real sense of what back breaking work, with little regard to hours that farming can be. While some of my friends have taken this as a calling, I elected to move off and do what I do. I don’t regret any of the decisions that I made but am glad that I had an opportunity to experience this huge and diverse industry first hand. In fact, I think that it’s a placement that all students should experience. We rely on this industry universally as meat and produce doesn’t magically appear at the local store. It’s part of a big chain that starts literally at grass roots.
Of all of the jobs in society, farming is the most selfless. Activities are started when they are needed and are done when they are finished. There is little regard for punching in and out on a timeclock. Many activities are governed instead by the calendar or the needs of the livestock. Holidays? Hah! Do you think that you can ask a dairy cow to hold it while you take a weekend trip? It doesn’t matter whether it’s December 25th or July 17. Milking needs to be part of the routine So does feeding and livestock know it. In their way, you are welcomed to the barn when it’s time to eat.
Thanks, canadianguy78 – cc
Community and learning from each other takes place in this profession as well. Drop into a local coffee shop during break, or watch a gathering of pickup trucks alongside a fence for some impromptu story telling or sharing of techniques. It’s there. Farming is no small business. Have you priced a farm, a greenhouse or a combine lately? It’s huge business.
So, as the Fall arrives, it’s only natural to celebrate another year of contributing to Ontario society and we do that well with fall fairs. A PDF file listing Ontario fairs is available here or you can search by date or region here. I would strongly encourage all to support your local agricultural culture by taking the time to attend. On a personal level, we’re so fortunate being so close that we can annually attend the Harrow Fair. Now, when you attend, it’s easy to be distracted by the bright lights, the midway, and the food. Those are typically services provided by travelling shows and can be great fun.
But, the highlight is to dig into the local efforts. Check out the arrays of flowers, arrangements of fruit, the baking, the chickens, the children parading their cattle, the school exhibits and the livestock displays. This is the point where you can appreciate and show your acknowledgement for the hard work that feed us all. This is an industry that is local and difficult to out source. Despite this, it’s an industry that is facing economic challenges as well. Higher priced equipment have the farmer dealing with caps and quotas. Nothing is easy these days.
But, for the weekend that the fair is in town, you can take a few moments to enjoy yourself and say thanks to those who do their job so well and allow us to go to a store where we can purchase high quality Ontario products and produce.
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