I am afraid this will not be a very wordy post, but one in video. I wanted to share this progress of farm images from 1907 to 1950’s. And then close with a modern video I found concerning some new legislature in Michigan which may make owning heritage and old breed grass fed hogs by small farms illegal. And a modern small farm trying to survive as well as fond memories from Lyle of farm life from the 1900s.
First some farming stats:
41 percent of workforce employed in agriculture
21.5 percent of workforce employed in agriculture;
Agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP, 7.7 percent
16 percent of the total labor force employed in agriculture;
Agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP, 6.8 percent
4 percent of employed labor force worked in agriculture;
Agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP, 2.3 percent
1.9 percent of employed labor force worked in agriculture (2000); Agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP (2002),
Source: Compiled by Economic Research Service, USDA. Share of workforce employed in agricul ture, for 1900-1970, Historical Statistics of the United States; for 2000, calculated using data from Census of Population; agricultural GDP as part of total GDP, calculated using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Farming in England 1904 (similar to U.S. farming at the same time of course)
1916 Women Farming during WWI for the Women's National Land Service Corps.
1930’s. This is a fun compilation film of both educational footage as well as snippets from movies. It shows various farming being changed by electricity. There are also some bits on electric washing machines and electric ironers.
And this fun film from the 1950’s show a typical incident of the time. The ‘city folk (often suburban more than not) visit their relatives who still farm the land. A diminishing lot.
American farmers continued to dwindle in number during the decade. In 1950 the farm population of 23 million stood at slightly more than 15 percent of the total population. Ten years later only 15.6 million farmers remained, constituting 8.7 percent of the total population. Here is a 1961 movie on improved pig farming.
And finally here is a modern video from a small pig farm in Michigan that raises heritage and old breed hogs. This is a small family farm and are part of the diminishing quality of food and of life of our rural landscape.
The state of Michigan has issued a document describing nine "traits" of what they call "feral pigs" which they claim should be destroyed on April 1.
If you would like to read the actual legal doc, HERE is the link.
After I watched this, I thought, “Some people may immediately get defensive and think this is just a way for this farm to sell their wares”. And it made me mad in a way. Because we are constantly advertised to everyday and think nothing of plopping down hundreds of dollars to Apple for the latest i-phone or Wal-Mart for the cheapest ‘necessity’ but when it comes to a vanishing breed: the small farmer, we may think, “He’s not getting my dollar”. I hope that is not the train of thought of any of you, but if it is, why do you suppose we are so quick to turn on our fellows yet stand in line for hours to buy a product we don’t need when it is immediately released?
In a way the 1930’s was a sort of last ditch effort to go against the changing norms of the turn of that century. And, due to another World War, we sort of lost our way. It wasn’t any one particular small groups fault, we just felt a new and better way of life could be bought. It was there, made at home and ready to purchased. However, I increasingly have come to realize that a better way of life, the Good Life, is not for sale. It is not something to be bought but something to think about, act upon, live and demand. I hope we are not too late now, in our New Depression. I hope we can see a better way from the past and realize we can make a difference with our wallets.
I will close with this wonderful snippet from Lyle an old Wisconsin Farmer with memories from the 1900’s. The times seemed harder but good as well with laughter and community.