But even more difficult, our age’s individualism greatly decreases a farm’s chance of long-term success. In historical America, the farm was a family-run enterprise. It was more of a generational lifestyle than a “full-time job.” Land was a highly coveted commodity, and a farmer’s children were expected to carry on the work after their father or mother was too tired or old to continue.Of course this is not an insurmountable goal. If none of their children were interested, a farm couple could find some likely candidate at ag school, or working for wages on an organic farm, and bring him or her in as a partner. But the expectation that at least one of the children would keep farming certainly made things simpler.
But today, children are no longer expected—nor are they usually encouraged—to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Children are not, modernism tells us, to be saddled with the burdens of their forbears. What does this mean for modern farmers? Simply that, unless one of their children takes a liking to the tedium of farm work, today’s agrarians are on their own. They must conjure up a successful, fruitful farm in their few decades of limber life, or else content themselves with a frugal, arduous future.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Farming and the Modern Family
Gracy Oldmstead explains why modern family structure is a big obstacle for those hoping to get back to the land: