On one of my recent “I’m up way too early on a Sunday” mornings, there was a marathon of “The Andy Griffith Show” on television.
In one episode, widowed farmer Sam Jones was excited about the arrival of his Italian friend, Mario Vincente, who was coming to America and Mayberry to help Sam out on the farm.
As Sam and Andy waited at the train station, Sam said it was getting harder and harder to find help for the farm.
“Farm life just don’t seem to appeal to too many people around here anymore,” Sam said.
“Just too rugged, I guess,” Andy replied.
Granted farm life was a lot different in the 1960s than it is today with the advancements of technology and machinery, but farmers still continue to struggle to meet the labor needs of their operations; be it someone dependable to milk a day or two a week, or someone with enough cowsense to close a gate. Producers are often left to do the chores themselves, and we know there are often times not enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Then there are those folks who think farming is an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, with an hour off for lunch, and those who don’t like to get dirty. In my previous life at a daily newspaper, I actually had a young reporter flat refuse to cover a county fair because he didn’t want to step in anything in the livestock barn and he thought there would be too much dust kicked up for him at the tractor pull.
The young reporter’s refusal didn’t go very far. If I recall correctly, he covered not only a livestock show and a tractor pull, but a few other “dirty” events that year at the fair.
Let’s face it, good help is hard to find – no matter what line of work or industry you are in.
Thankfully for many farm families in the Ozarks, there are young people who help out on their family farms, and many of those young people have plans to continue in the agriculture industry after high school and/or college.
We are honoring some of those young agriculturalists and their dedication to farming and ranching in this edition of Ozarks Farm & Neighbor. We hope their stories will inspire other young people to take an active role in the industry.
For generations, farm kids have opted to move away from rural America. Their reasons are varied, but for many moving was the only way they felt they could make a living. Today, however, America is seeing a resurgence of young people who think the grass is a little greener on the farm than in the larger metropolitan areas.
With the average age of the American farmer getting a little older each day, America needs more of these Millennials back on the farm.
So, to all of us who are Baby Boombers and Generation X’ers, let’s share our knowledge and love of the farm with those who are following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents, as well as with those who are carving their own path in agriculture. Let’s teach them that life on the farm isn’t always a bed of roses and the rewards may be few and far between at times, but a little dirt and manure never hurt anyone.