A Farmer’s “Automatic” Labor of Love

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By Lauren Schwab

Growing up on a farm has taught me the value of hard work and time put into raising food. It’s more than a business, it’s a lifestyle that I have come to know and trust in. While farming has come a long way since my dad began in the 1970’s, it is still a labor of love for the land and animals. Farming is not selfish, it is a generous labor of love for future generations to receive and continue on. My dad did it all by hand while exposed to the weather elements mother nature brought his way. The pigs used to be all outdoors, from extreme heat to freezing cold temperatures. They were exposed to the dirt and predators of country pastures such as coyotes. Dad bedded each pen with straw and cleaned it daily. He used to be fortunate for a mother sow to raise seven of her piglets. Today with the comfort of our cooled and heated barns with constant care, a mother will raise 11 or more of her piglets born. While upgrades of barns and technologies to make farm life easier such as a grinder to grind our corn and soybean meal, automatic fans, curtains, misting systems, heaters and waterers in the barns, I am fortunate to have experienced the strains and discomforts of farm life.

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The song “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert makes me think about times in my childhood before automatic windows, cameras, cell phones computers and Facebook. When things were simple and worth more because of the time and labor put into them. The lyrics remind me of so many memories I have come to cherish and want to share in hopes you be reminded of simplicity’s bliss.

Quarter in a pay phone – I do remember using a pay phone in middle school to call home to my parents when I forgot something.
Drying laundry on the line – My mom still does this in a spare bedroom to save money.
Watching Sun Tea in the window
Pocket watch tellin’ time
Seems like only yesterday I’d get a blank cassette – I have so many fun memories with cassettes. My brother and I would put in a Michael Jackson cassette and pretend to be zombies while dancing to Thriller. I also used to buy karaoke cassettes to sing in church.
Record the country countdown ’cause I couldn’t buy it yet
If we drove all the way to Dallas just to buy an Easter dress
We’d take along a Rand McNally,
stand in line to pay for gas
God knows that shifting gears ain’t what it used to be – I have many memories riding in my grandpa’s old pick up on the farm stead and even my boyfriend’s Ford pick up when we started dating.
I learned to drive that 55 just like a queen, three on a tree
Hey, whatever happened to waitin’ your turn
Doing it all by hand, – To this day, I think how our impatience has grown. Everyone wants everything now. We spend money we don’t have, buy food we don’t raise ourselves and spend our time watching other people’s lives behind a television or computer screen.
‘Cause when everything is handed to you
It’s only worth as much as the time put in – This line resonates with me because it is how I have come to place value in what I do and earn. I have a true understanding of the value of a dollar and bite of food. Many of us are fortunate to go to the grocery store and buy whatever food we desire at an affordable price. We take bite after bite without pausing to think about and thank the farmer who grew this food or the animal that God’s life gave for our nourishment. I truly believe this air, land, water and animals are a gift from God for our lives. Less then two percent of the United States population are farmers. Ninety eight percent of us rely on others to grow our food. We are so fortunate. I truly believe God has placed me in this profession and way of life for a purpose and I plan to tell my families labor of love to those who will listen for generations to come and know what farming was like in 2014, just as my Great Aunt Dee tells about it in the early 1900’s. I truly place value and worth on the time and labor put into it, especially when it comes to life’s essentials of food, water, clothing and shelter.
It all just seemed so good the way we had it
Back before everything became automatic – Sometimes I wish I could have been born in the 1930’s, to experience technologies as they came about and truly appreciate simplicity the way my great aunt, grandparents and parents have come to know and value.
If you had something to say
You’d write it on a piece of paper
Then you’d put a stamp on it
And they’d get it three days later – I remember sending letters back and forth to friends I met at church summer camp. I cherish how my best friend Brittany and I exchange cards and gifts by mail to this day. There is just something special about writing by hand and taking the time to go to make a package and send it at the post office.
Boys would call the girls
And girls would turn them down – It means more to me when my boyfriend and best friend call me. I have never been one to hold conversations by text. There is something meaningful about a phone call especially a long distance and long over due one.
Staying married was the only way to work your problems out
Hey, whatever happened to waitin’ your turn
Doing it all by hand,
‘Cause when everything is handed to you
It’s only worth as much as the time put in
It all just seemed so good the way we had it
Back before everything became automatic
Automatic
Let’s pull the windows down – I cherish my first car, a blue saturn, being so simple with it’s crank windows and only a radio, so I can tell children about it one day. Just these simplicities are something to remember how times were like at a certain time in one’s life.
Windows with the cranks
Come on let’s take a picture
The kind you gotta shake – My grandpa would always take polaroid pictures of the farm, his garden and us as children. I have a polaroid of us grandchildren with him the Christmas before he passed away on my vanity mirror.
Hey, whatever happened to waitin’ your turn
Doing it all by hand,
‘Cause when everything is handed to you
It’s only worth as much as the time put in
It all just seemed so good the way we had it
Back before everything became, automatic
I hope this song and stories creates a slideshow of memories in your mind today. I also hope it enlightens you to pause and be thankful for the food grown for you and the technologies that make our lives easier. Simplicity is bliss and farming is a labor of love I do for you.

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