Pa. farm, city workers trade places

November 17, 1997

Pa. farm, city workers trade places


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After Greencastle, Pa., dairy farmer Alan Meyers spent a half day at a construction site, and operations manager Travis George got a taste of what it's like working on a farm, both decided they're happy with the jobs they have.

"There's not a dairy farmer out there that has to worry about me taking his job," said George, who works with his father, Dave, and two brothers, John and Trevor, at D.L. George and Sons, a construction, manufacturing and transportation company in Waynesboro, Pa.

The feeling is mutual.

"The complexities of managing this many people and this many job sites and being the answer man ... that pressure would give me ulcers," said Meyers, who operates Tidy Brook Farm with his father, Mark, and employee Joel Mills.


The two, who happen to be brothers-in-law, paired up as part of Franklin County's 23rd annual farm-city job exchange program designed to help rural and urban business people learn more about each other.

"This gives a better understanding of urban and rural interdependence and it's a great educational opportunity," said Dalton Paul, chairman of the Franklin County Farm-City Council for the past 25 years.

Jim King, owner of We Kings turkey farm in Greencastle, and Guy Camp, pastor of Marion United Methodist Church, also took part in the program.

King accompanied Camp on hospital visits and then served as the church's liturgist one Sunday while Camp helped unload 16,100 day-old turkeys on the farm.

Chambersburg veterinarian J. Stanley Stratton will exchange with an employee at Chambersburg's HPS Inc., makers of seals and O-rings, later this week.

On Thursday, George showed up at Tidy Brook Farm surprisingly bright-eyed, wearing layers of clothes on the dark, frosty morning - just in time for the 5 a.m. milking.

"We're going to put you in some dirt today," said Meyers, chuckling as George bent over to put on his black rubber boots.

He wasn't joking.

George's first job was to hop up into a uni-loader and scrape the cow manure out of the lot that holds 96 registered Holsteins, while Meyers fed the animals.

"You're hired," Meyers told George after he successfully cleaned the area.

Between jobs, Meyers patiently explained to George the inner workings of the fourth-generation dairy farm, including what the cows are fed, the more complicated embryo-transfer work and in-vitro fertilization, processes he got to see later in the morning.

George then helped feed each of the 13 hungry calves a big bottle of warm milk, which, to his amazement, they sucked down in less than a minute.

He then got a quick lesson on milking cows and learned the process of how the milk gets from the cow to the holding tank.

"I never thought it was so in-depth ... it's amazing to me. I never dreamed it would be like that," George said, looking back on his experience.

On Monday, Meyers met George at 6 a.m. and the two drove to the Waynesboro office where they mobilized the construction crews and then visited two job sites.

"I've only been here three hours now and the problems he has to deal with are amazing," Meyers said of George.

The nonstop schedule didn't give George and Meyers time to eat breakfast, a meal Meyers never goes without when he's on the farm.

The two hopped into George's truck, donning hard hats, and headed up to a housing development construction site in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., when one job foreman radioed that there was a problem with the angle of the slope for the water drainage pipe.

"I manage people all day. When there are problems, they call and I go out and try to help out or sometimes we have to go back to the engineer," George said.

Withstanding the 29-degree temperature on the mountain, George instructed Meyers how to operate a bulldozer and explained the layout of the land.

"This was fascinating for me. I know the basics of running equipment, but managing people I've never had to do," Meyers said.

While George's company is divided into specific areas, he said a farmer's diversity - handling animals, carpentry, mechanics and veterinary work - is one of the things that surprised him most about the occupation.

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