The New Old-Fashioned Farmer

Reader Contribution by Rhonda Crank
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We call ourselves New Old-Fashioned Farmers. Why, you ask? I’m so glad you did. We call ourselves this because we farm the way my grandparents taught me, like their parents taught them, in manner that is, since we farm in a modern, tech filled world. Balance is the key to life. We have found a balance that works for us between the old ways of my great-grandparents and grandparents and the modern tools available to us.

When our grandparents and great-grandparents were young and gardening, they didn’t have some of the concerns we have today. Their seeds were natural, organic seeds just because that’s what they planted, those are the seeds they harvested, and the cycle repeated itself. They would never believe the things that we have to face or make decisions on. Like planting non-GMO, organic, heirloom seeds; how to fertilize organically; how to enrich stripped soil that has been abused; or even how much we want to depend on the grid; how much technology do you want on your farm … on and on we could go.

Every farmsteader/homesteader, whichever you prefer, has to find the balance for themselves, their farm, their family. Some try to say that you have to meet certain standard to be able to call yourself a farmsteader/homesteader. This is just simply not true.

Some of us, and I often wish I was one of them, are completely off-grid. They live and work the way people did 75 to 100 years ago. You won’t read much about them because, well, they’re off-grid.

Some are like me, in the middle. We use the same farming principles that our grandfathers did, while using tools like planters, chainsaws, wood splitters, broadforks and others they did not have available. Yet we do this with common sense and a goal of self-sufficiency while being stewards of our land, not possessors and users. We prefer to use the old timers’ ways of fertilizing and soil maintenance. It works, it is good for the food, good for the soil, and good for us!

There are still those others who use every modern convenience available to them. They use heavy equipment, technologically wired devices, and are heavy grid feeders. While they are the polar opposite of the off-griders, no one can say they are wrong for farming their way.

One of the most remembered things my grandfather taught me is, “There’s as many ways of gettin’ a farm job done as there’s farmers. Ya gotta be willing to listen, help, and learn from ’em, even if it’s just to see what not to do.” He enjoyed coming to our farm and driving the “big” tractor. He never used a tractor on his farm. He preferred his mules and oxen. He did use a power saw, a rototiller, and in the 1960s he started using some sort of welding system. No one in the family remembers exactly what it was, but I do remember it used a large tank and we were never allowed to touch it.

So, we call ourselves new old-fashioned farmers because we are in the middle. The main thing is to find that balance in your life. When we are balanced, it is contagious to others. They will ask and want to learn from you. Sharing, caring and passing on the ways of farmsteading so that the next generation can provide food for their families; isn’t that what it’s all about?

Where do you fit in on the spectrum? Have you found your balance? Your place in the farming world? Isn’t is rich, powerful, and intriguing to live this lifestyle?

Safe and Happy Journey,

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