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Farming is a labor of love

September 05, 2011|By JEFF SEMLER
  • Semler
Semler

On Monday, we celebrated Labor Day.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.

The Labor Department goes on to say the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later on Sept. 5, 1883.

In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Our country was built on agriculture and manufacturing, but today these industries have fallen on hard times. Even though national unemployment figures might be hovering at more than 9 percent, that doesn't mean employers have 14 million prospective workers beating down their doors. In fact, finding good employees remains a challenge, especially on dairy farms and other ag-related operations where "dirty jobs" are often difficult to fill.

These are the jobs The Fiscal Times describes as "high-stress, uncomfortable, dangerous, or just plain icky, that regardless of the recession, you have to be pretty desperate to sign up for. "In the spirit of David Letterman and top 10 lists, these "hideous" jobs have their own list, with agriculture earning a top spot.

Farmers were at one time revered, and many of our founding fathers considered themselves tillers of the soil. Most farmers, prior to the modern era, were usually involved in manufacture and industries of all kinds. Many were blacksmiths, millers, haulers (ever heard of teamsters?), carpenters and more.

Today's modern farmer has to be many things besides an agronomist, animal husbandman, accountant and weatherman. In light of that. I share this composition from yesteryear in honor of farmers everywhere:

What is a Farmer?

Well, that depends entirely on where you stand.

To his wife, he's a big eater, heavy sleeper, someone to share hopes and dreams with.

To his minister, he's a believer in God in nature, and nature in God.

To a politician, he's someone you talk about during elections.

To a businessman, he's a customer.

To the banker, he's a depositor.

To his neighbor, he's a friend.

To his children, he's a man who always has a chore for them.

To his dog, he's a man with a quiet voice.

To the grocer, he's a godsend.

To the dairy cooperative, he's the owner.

To the insurance agent, he's a big risk.

To the mechanic, he's a mechanical wizard who fixes things himself.

To the doctor, he's a physical wonder.

And to himself, well, only he can tell you that — but chances are, he won't.

You see, it depends entirely on how you look at him.

Actually, the farmer is all of these — and more.

For one thing, he's just about as close to being an independent business as one can be these days. The farmer is pretty much his own boss, and what he makes, he makes by the sweat of his own brow. Each year, he has to gamble with nature as to whether or not he will have a crop. If nature wins, the farmer loses — if the farmer wins, then nature has been kind.

He's quite a man, this farmer of ours.
— Anonymous

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