& never more employed …….

The holidays are over so I suppose I’d better get back to work. Even though I officially retired years ago. Farms ago. Three farms ago to be honest. I retired but my neighbor and my old man kept giving me the opportunity to farm another farm. If asked I will farm. It’s what I do. I retired a herd or two ago also. Oh, I had a herd when I retired and I had no intentions of getting rid of them. I had every intention of eliminating the work that a herd can become. I quit vaccinating. I quit implanting with growth hormones. I quit catching and tagging the calves when they were born. I quit turning the bull in and only letting them breed for the two traditional months around here, I let him stay with the girls year round now even if it means winter calves. A cow that can calve successfully in the winter is a keeper, just ask her calf. I kept the herd but jettisoned the bullshit. Overboard and out of mind.

I was going to farm the two farms I had rented on 50/50 share crop leases, run my little herds of cows and pigs (oh yea, I had pigs back then), watch the kids when the stay at gone mom was in road gear, and enjoy the rest of my life. Less than twenty cows and less than twenty hogs was retiring compared with the huge herds I had worked on for other people. What I was retiring from was working off the farm to make ends meet. That I did. I eventually got rid of the last few hogs. My last sow’s litter was only one pig. I was amazed when the son in law of a neighbor lady stopped by wanting to buy one forty pound pig exactly when the little shit hit forty pounds. But then I stopped at another neighbor’s lane one day when he was unloading a pickup load of cockle burs to burn in the road ditch and told him if he rented me that farm instead of the guy he had rented it to that I would make sure he never had to cut cockle burs again.

That led to a larger combine …….

Then the government came up with a freedom to farm farm program that allowed us to be in the program without having to maintain the governments base acres for each program crop. My old man said,”If I read it right that law says I can force you boys (two of my brothers and I) to farm it right!” Then he added quite conciliatory,” This won’t hurt you will it, it’s those other two birds I’m gunning for but I have to be fair and do it all around.” I told him no it wouldn’t hurt me to sow it all half down to hay even though it did. I had no real hay tools and had been hiring that done for the little bit of hay I had.

That led to buying a mower, rake and baler …….

Eventually it led to a larger herd after getting stiffed on a hay sale to a neighbor that went belly up. (He says he still intends to pay me but it’s been over ten years) I decided to feed it to cattle myself and use the manure to build up weak spots in the soils around the farms. I will feed it in big round bale feeders right on the spots where the soils need built up. I will only move the feed rings a little way over each time until the whole hard pan area is covered with cow manure. I have been able to get twice the crops on these areas in the years after “treating” them with cattle scat.

That led to doubling the herd …….

Then I had an older brother move to Arizona for his heart and Dad offered me his farm. I was reluctant to take it because up till then no one was renting more than one farm from Dad. How would the rest of the family feel if I rented two of his then three farms? I still had one brother whom never farmed and two who weren’t currently farming. Plus I had an older brother who was farming but hadn’t ever rented from “the folks”. (It was in Mom’s name) After Dad had convinced me no one else in the family needed the farm I agreed to farm it. But I didn’t have enough cattle for the increase in pasture and hay. It was already half sewed down and the freedom to farm program was still in effect.

That led to a newer combine and redoubling the herd …….

After that Dad foresaw the zero interest rate debacle looming on the horizon and he cashed out his CD’s that were paying compound interest in the teens and he converted the cash into farmland. He bought two just as they started to take off from the last high point before the great farm crises of the 1980’s. One he never actually bought. He had taken title to it (again in Mom’s name since she “forced” him into it) when my older brother borrowed funds to get the farm out of hock to another farmer he’d borrowed from. Dad only charged him interest (real interest of 4% not the zirp the banks are on) each year and he had the option of paying it all off whenever he wanted, so long as Dad was still alive. If Dad died (and he did a few years after) the option to buy it back died along with him. So the only brother farming who wasn’t renting from Dad was/is and I’m renting three from “him” for six or seven years now. (two from his trust, one from Mom)

Which leads to doing more work than I did before I retired …….