Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Doom and gloom! We will all die without young farmers!

I've written about the medias obsession with young farmers before, and now I see that backyard poultry is writing a piece that is titled

Young Farmers Going Extinct and it got picked up by a hardware blog (and your humble writer here)

Extinct is a pretty alarmist title.  In that story the author talks about a study that says that the average age of farmers in wyoming was increasing, and that the percentage of all farmers that were younger was decreasing.

First, lets talk about what a "farmer" is.  I'm going to presume that someone who they count as a "farmer" is actually a landowner; because if they count people like immigrant workers, the average age is pretty low -- I'd say way under 35 -- and the total number of farmworkers is probably either steady or decreasing (as automation makes it possible to farm with less labor, but very slowly).

Some types of farm work are a young mans game, and part of the automation push that american farms have is that it's hard to get a young person to buck bales of hay for minimum wage, or do any of the other jobs that are a lot harder than playing with an xbox.

So the average age of landowners is increasing.  I've got to question why this is an issue.  Someone will work that land if there's a profit to be made.

I've written many times about farms that didn't work out for one reason or the other.  But I'll bet that if you go to the land that thundering hooves farmed, or tlc ranch (honestmeat.com) farmed, you'll find people today that are tilling and farming that same ground.

Good farmland stays in production basically forever -- at least I'd hope so.  In my area they keep flooding and ruining good farmland because there's no cost too high to pay for salmon recovery (see footnote 1), but that's rare in agricultural areas.

Take home lesson?

There will be no shortage of food, or famers, in the near or far future.  If the labor situation does get worse, we'll either automate our way out of it, or we'll raise wages to the point where it becomes competitive with other employment choices that people have.

We don't have articles wondering why the average age of CEOs is increasing, or the average bank president is 60 years old.  We probably should move right on to more important topics.  Like what we're going to eat tonight, or what the cat is doing in the kitchen.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Spring piglets

I'm always happy to see pigs born at this time of year.  It's not great weather wise (although this years very, very mild winter is very nice) but it's great for the market.  Spring pigs, particulary those born in january and february, are usually in short supply, and are desired as show pigs and fair pigs.  

 So we've got quite the color pallete of piglets.  Pink and red and solid and spotted
 This group is showing its yorkshire heritage, but they are crossbred piglets.  We do have purebred sows, but we breed (and sell) hybrid pigs.  They are more thrifty with feed and are healthy and bouncing.  More pig for the customers dollar, I think .
 The litter above is only a day old, snoozing next to mom.  She'd really like them to nurse, but they're all sleeping now.  She'll wake them up shortly and remind them to eat.

 Each little pig hits the ground running.  within minutes of birth they're on their feet and suckling.  the next day t hey're a little wobbly, but oriented and determined.  The first order of business for a piglet is to figure out which nipple is theirs and protect it.
Now while you have your own nipple, it's perfectly ok to snack off of someone elses nipple if you can.  Another day-old litter.

Right now I'm carrying 120 piglets ranging in age from 1 day to 4 weeks.  I run this sort of schitzophrenic path when I have this many piglets -- "what am I going to do with all of them", and then I'll have a good sales weekend, and sell 60 pigs, and then I switch to "I'm out of piglets!  I need more".

Kinda like that stress.  Beats the heck out of staring at the back of a car in traffic.


Monday, January 26, 2015

New blogs on my "blogs I read" list.

Welcome The Tiny Homesteaders to the blogs I read list.  he's dealing with some sort of predatory cat right now.  Hoping that the game camera pictures show it soon.

Over at ChismHeritagefarm.com he's working on a massive reading list and appears to be another techy who's second job is the farm.  there's a fair bit of discussion of both sides of that equation, and it's similar to my thoughts over time.

I'm always open to new blogs to read, or new farming-related publications of any sort.  if you have suggestions, feel free to email me at bruceki@bigpig.net