Living on a farm is a different way of life. It’s a life of making your own food, learning responsibilities, and building a family. Agriculture and farms play a huge role in Missouri, past and present. However, comparing today’s farming to farming in the past is like comparing apples to oranges. The differences vary but the same lessons are learned, and the results impact the world immensely.
Growing up on a farm is a giant learning experience, no matter what decade you are from. “I’ve always felt that living on a farm was a good way to provide for your family and teach your children responsibility,” said Shirley Reil. Shirley explained that living on a farm takes a lot of work. Being a girl was no excuse in her family. Even as a child Shirley helped on the farm. Whether it was feeding the animals, collecting the eggs, or tending to a newborn calf, it’s a life of commitment and dedication. When the everyday chores did not get finished, it affected the family’s income.
As a farmer, not only are you providing food for your family, but also the millions across America. When you eat corn on the cob and steak, the last thing that crosses your mind is a small farm in Southwest Missouri. Fifty-nine percent of food productions in the United states come from family farms.
Farming is a very risky business to work in, as the weather, maintenance cost of machinery, and market prices are unpredictable. Each year farmers face many obstacles along the way. The chances of a dry season can affect the crops’ yield. The machinery can break down, easily costing the family business thousands of dollars in repairs. Livestock catching a disease can easily wipe out an entire herd.
Harvested crops are either sold or stored in bins. Market cattle are sent to the local livestock market. For both of these types of products, farmers have to watch the market price very carefully in order to know when the best time is to sell. Shirley stated “ The market sets its own price whether you agree with it or not. You have no say in the price.” When Shirley was young, the price of a bushel of corn was almost two dollars. Today it’s anywhere around seven dollars a bushel.
When discussing how things have changed in the years since Shirley lived and worked on a farm, she responded that they were “completely different.” She said that “the machinery is so much bigger and better. Everything is high tech, but it is still a good life. The standard of living has advanced even if you are not in farming.” In spite of all the hard work and the uncertain farm markets, Shirley said that farm life was still very beneficial for her and to her community.
Shirley Reil. Personal. December 05, 2013