061: I am grateful for farmers

by Mike Browne on November 22, 2009

Farmers' Market

If it came down to it, could you feed yourself? I mean, if there were no more grocery stores and you had to grow or gather your own food, raise animals or hunt, could you do it?

I don’t know if I could. I can’t even grow bamboo and that’s supposedly very easy. As far as animals go I shudder to think of what a mess trying to raise them would be, as is evidenced by our latest cat shenanigans. And slaughtering an animal to eat? Forget about it.

When I used to mow the lawn for my father’s animal hospital a horse from a local farm was brought in via truck having cut its leg on a fence. The farmer and his son removed the animal from the back of the horse trailer with a large bandage on a hind leg. Dad removed the bandage and blood shot across the parking lot, at least 10 feet with every pump of the horse’s heart.

Dad quickly set to repairing the damage while I became quite woozy and needed a seat. Still wobbly, I left on my bicycle with the image of that bleeding horse burning a hole through my skull on the sweltering summer day.

I made it halfway home and everything started to go white. I got off my bike and fainted on my grandmother’s front lawn. She rushed out to tend to me.

I am a wuss, or “wooz”, as my mother pronounces it. I would not do well in a slaughter situation. So, I think I would starve. There are only so many blueberries in the world.

This is why I am grateful for farmers.

What is a farmer?

The term farmer usually applies to a person who grows field crops, and/or manages orchards or vineyards, or raises livestock or poultry such as chicken and cows. Their products are usually sold in a market or, in a subsistence economy, consumed by the family or pooled by the community. [source]

Due to Dad’s business as a large and small animal vet with a large rural territory to cover, I got to meet many farmers over the years. Dad would take me along on “country calls” to learn about sheep, horses, pigs, and cows. I have seen pretty much all of those, and more, being born as well. Farmers, in my experience, are interesting, honest, hardworking and often dirty (no offense) folks who get up way too friggin’ early.

There are some people brave enough to tackle farming in urban areas as well, take the following for example –

Novella Carpenter started small, with some plants in an empty lot next to her house in Oakland. A couple of years later, she was tending to a full-blown farm, with goats, turkeys, ducks, pigs, and a robust garden. Her book, Farm City, details her experiences. As does this video, which tackles questions of neighborliness (which is more offensive: police sirens or roosters crowing?), environmental poisons (raised beds are key), and the all-important slaughter question. The answer: Yes, she does (and yes, there is some bloody footage). [source]

Just hold your hand over your eyes for the disturbing parts, this video is worth seeing:

OBSESSIVES: Urban Farmer – on CHOW.com from CHOW.com on Vimeo.

That gives me a little hope and some inspiration. If Novella can do it, maybe I can too. Though I am nowhere near as gutsy as she appears to be.

Carol would like goats, but we don’t have place for them right now. We could have some chickens in the garage, but I think the clucking would make the woman in our basement suite crazy.

Looks like we will be sticking to growing things on the balcony. Carol’s the green thumb; my personal farmer. I am the taste tester.

Thank you farmers for helping me live to see tomorrow!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 carolbrowne November 23, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I know I can do all the above except raising animals for slaughtering. Once I've taken care of something, I wouldn't be able to kill it. But, for some reason, if I were hungry enough, I THINK I could hunt something and then eat it. I've eaten fish I've caught before. I just don't like to think about it at all.

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