Elaine Meinel Supkis
The NYT has a story about a new goofy TV 'reality' show. In it, a bunch of actresses, fashion models and assorted others compete to see who some fool of a farmer wants to date. Of course, this is all empty publicity. No actress or fashion model will want to shovel shit for the rest of her life, that is certain. Indeed, it is hard to find women willing to break fingernails, much less legs, shoving cattle around or dealing with blizzards and buzzards. Since I live in the country, it is time yet again to discuss the American industrial farm and why it is having problems in the reproductive sector.
When Matt Neustadt, the Missouri farmer at the center of the CW network’s new reality show, “Farmer Wants a Wife,” drives his tractor and trailer down Hollywood Boulevard here on Tuesday morning, he will be aiming to do more than simply promote the American version of what is a worldwide television hit.
As a group, the Neustadt family also received more than $693,000 in federal farm subsidies from 1995 through 2006, according to Agriculture Department records compiled by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington nonprofit research organization. That includes more than $78,000 paid to Mr. Neustadt himself since 1998, in the form of disaster subsidies and commodity payments.
Next to the military/industrial complex and the spy network, no one is more socialist than the US farmer. These same people nearly uniformly vote for the GOP and yell about welfare cheats and leeches off the government. But hark! In today's news is this story:
Seeking to ease growing concerns about the weakening economy, President Bush on Tuesday called on Congress, with whom he has battled all year, to introduce broad new measures that would lower food and energy prices, stem the mortgage crisis and reduce what he called lavish subsidies to farmers.
Looks like the GOP is ditching the ditch digging farmers and kissing up to the offshore pirates and corporate raiders of Wall Street. Perhaps the farmers will figure out they have been double crossed. Even better, if they figure out that they are, in many cases, Welfare Queens, most of their present difficulties might be easier to handle. For they must cease their bizarre double standards and utter hypocrisy and embrace socialism with both arms and give Karl Marx a big kiss. Smooch.
Farmers, like suburban home buyers and our government, loves cheap debt, too. If money floods into the land or housing markets, farmers make a killing. How many farms were sold so they could be converted into suburban housing this last 5 years? 10,000? 25,000? I know of many a farmer out here who paid for the farm not by dying but by selling multi-generational farms to real estate developers!
Years ago, I warned about paving over our best farmland near the big cities and turning it into an asphalt/toxic lawn wasteland. I called good river soil, 'Black Gold' just like oil it 'Black Gold.' As the world's population grows, the best farmlands on earth are being devoured not just in the US but in Europe, in Asia, all over the planet. For always, big cities grow fastest where the best farmlands are. Even in deserts, this is true. When I lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, in the 1950's, it was a farming community fed by irrigation. Tucson was a farming community, too.
Today, there is no more farming. There are golf courses and lots and lots of houses. But no farms. All over the West, farms are going fallow or dying from lack of water as all of it is diverted to leisure, swimming pools, lawns, and flush toilets. To my unending rage. I figured out, back when we had an outhouse in Arizona, flush toilets were ridiculous. True, black widows and scorpions moved into out houses but it builds character to learn how to deal with them. I got really good at pinning them down with a knife and then watching them try to get free before cutting them in two. But then, I played with rattlers and Gila Monsters, too. As well as my dear bobcat, Bob [hey, I was only 7 years old when I adopted him!] or my pet skunk, Spotty [I was 5 when I got her]. The messiness of living in the country can't be described easily.
Back to the farmer's wife: an unenviable job. Most farms limp along due to high land taxes, etc. Rather than have government welfare payments, I would far, far rather have the government pay our land taxes. I pay over $6,000 a year for just 23 acres! OUCH. This is for school and fire, as well as county taxes to pay for medical care and policing of the nearby cities! OUCH. Meanwhile, my sheriff is myself and my gun. If I need help, it takes over an hour for it to show up, that is, if it is not WINTER. Then, it doesn't show. Period.
I grew up using a gun and being the sheriff. My first citizen's arrest was done at the age of 15 years when I held three guys at gun point and made them shake a tad. Heh. 'Moving target practice can be fun! I love doing it. Like playing kick the can...' Yes. Shooting at a can repeatedly as it jumps and rolls is good practice. When I lived in New York City, these old skills were very useful.
Back to the farm business: if you have large mammals, you have to know how to use a gun and kill things. Like coyotes or dogs. Not to mention foxes and woodchucks. Even rabbits. Farming is all about killing things. And then gutting them, turning their fur or hide into useable objects, etc. A rather bloody business. Then there is birthing: more blood. I have had to reach inside of large mammal mommies to rearrange the legs and heads of twins or triplets so I can pull them out, one by one. With cows and horses, if it is a rump delivery and the baby is stuck, we have to reach inside, and loop a strap around the baby and using chains, pull him or her out. Sometimes I would hold an ewe between my legs while my husband would deliver the babies.
Romantic ideas of the idyll of farming fades fast when confronted with the bloody side. Putting down a beloved ox who has broken a hip falling on an ice sheet brings tears but one must hold the gun steady next to the temple and pull that trigger. Over the years, one can grow fond of these fellow farm hands.
But most farmers today, outside of nuts like myself or religious believers who don't use machines, they all use modern machines like tractors and lifts and hoists, etc. So mechanical skills are required. I run a tractor and backhoe side business which is now slowing down due to old age, arthritis being the bane of all farmers. To do this, one has to know how to run engines, how to fix things that inevitably break, how to deal with tires blowing, etc. No easy matter! A saline-filled rear tire weighs literally half a ton or more! The dangers of industrial accidents to farmers is great, a very dangerous occupation. And since one has to be a builder as well [as I am] then falling off of tall barn roofs, etc is another danger. But the freedom of being one's own boss is great! I do my best thinking while doing farm chores, for example. Thanks to the net, I can come inside and cyber socialize.
“They have a desire to go back to a more authentic life,” she said. “These women are tired of the dating life in the city. But it’s hard to find someone who is willing to commit.”
The 10 women who are competing for Mr. Neustadt’s hand include several aspiring actors or entertainers, members of professions that might be hard to nurture in Portage Des Sioux. But most profess to be more interested in finding a soul mate than in being on television — which is why, of course, they signed up for a reality dating program.
Mr. Neustadt would not say if he was still courting the woman who won the competition, which was taped a year ago. Though some of the women from the show will participate in local publicity events in the next week, the women riding down Hollywood Boulevard on Mr. Neustadt’s tractor will be models, according to Paul McGuire, a CW spokesman.
This is so stupid. They are hiring a bunch of vapid fashion models who then pretend they will be looking to become shit shovelers? Gads. The entire premise of these shows is rather stupid. Farm women seldom come due to sexual attraction or seeking an easy life. It ain't easy. Ever run out into a blizzard in a night dress with a gun, yelling, 'You goddam bear! Git out of the hives!' Or run from the bees when harvesting the honey? Once, a bee found out that I took their honey to the kitchen and within minutes the entire hive was probing my screens trying to find an entry! I had to go out the front door in disguise or they would recognize my face and harry me for a few weeks. As it was, they were in a foul mood and would buzz me with an annoying BZZZZT.
Then there are storms: tornadoes, lightning, snow: you are the mailman who has to go out anyway. I greatly dislike lightning. When I have to run out and yell to the animals to 'Come to me NOW!' with lightning lighting up the horizon, believe me, my heart is in my throat. Once, the oxen refused to come in and a bolt nearly killed them. After that, they always responded when I called them. Once, a lightning bolt got into Sparky's stall! He gave quite a jump. I lay on the floor until it was safe and then ran in and had to put out the fire.
Lightning is ALL OVER ALL FARMS. More than one farmer has been felled by lightning. It is one of our collective fears. And don't even think about trying to be out on a tractor on a flat field when hearing lighting that is even 5 miles away! Ever see a tractor moving at more than a crawl? Look for lightning nearby.
Here is some pictures of farm life here: Click on images to enlarge.
Mucking stalls: first, you have to get the horse to go outside and not come in and poke around. They love to poke around. So do the dogs.
I have happy hens who have a social life, an indoor-indoor house, an indoor run and an outdoor run. They lay beautiful eggs that are very golden and very delicious. Most eggs people buy in stores are from factory farms, the ugly side of farming. These efficient farms brutalize living creatures and treat them like things. I find this unbearably cruel. Don't patronize them. And nearly all store eggs are from unhappy hens and this shows. The yolks are pale yellow and the whites are runny. Here is a recent story from England:
Undercover investigators have filmed the ugly reality of egg production at a battery chicken farm supplying the biggest egg producer in the UK.
Viewed from the air, Holsworthy Beacon Farm takes its place in an idyllic rural scene. But in its sheds, chickens are crammed five to a cage, stacked in rows from floor to ceiling.
I clicked on the movie and got instantly enraged. How dare anyone do this to any animal? Brutal farming methods make money just like any form of slavery or ruthless exploitation of nature. But it is bad for everyone. In the end, it fails as diseases and other stresses destroy everything including us.
Here is an Eastern Painted Box Turtle I picked up the other day down by the river.
I hope this guy in the TV show gets a decent wife. But I would suggest he go hunting where there is game, not Hollywood. It is obvious, he is really not all that serious about his chore. He just wants to have fun. And that is OK. But his farm will be sold when he dies and he won't have any children to pass it on to. Perhaps some peasant from across the seas or Mexico will take over. For the most important crop one can raise is the young'uns. The children who should inherit the earth.