March 4, 2012

The small-farm dream

In today's world, full-time farmers make up a very small percentage of our population and yet are a vital part of our national and local economy.

We take for granted that a large variety of food will be affordable and available. While a great deal of today's agricultural products are grown on large-scale farms all over the country, consumers today are beginning to see the value of purchasing some of their food from local producers.

Not too long ago, perhaps within the last two generations, most of our local ancestors were small farmers. Much of our food was produced and sold locally. While the economic landscape has changed, the farmland still exists and the dream of living on a farm in the country still infects a lot of people.

In my case, while I did not grow up on a farm, both my parents grew up on New York dairy farms and I always felt that farming was in my blood. From an early age I owned and raised a multitude of farm animals — goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens and horses — all in a suburban back yard.

Through my experiences in a local 4-H Club, I gained an even greater interest in all aspects of farming and animal husbandry. This led me to pursue a degree in agriculture at Cornell University.

Since I did not have an existing family farm to come back to after college, I went to work for a local farmer and then for an agricultural cooperative. All this time I kept my small-farm dream alive.

My family had purchased an old farm in Schuyler Falls where I began raising dairy heifers and slowly but surely I worked to bring an abandoned farm back into productive use. With many hours of hard work building fences, fixing old machinery and scouting farm auctions for good deals, I pieced together the farming dream that I had always sought.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • clute_cropped.jpg When children are put at risk

    Adults who deal drugs, commit domestic violence and other crimes with kids present are guilty of yet another crime, writes columnist Penny Clute.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time