November 27, 2011

A thankful time of year

In today's world of consumerism and hectic lifestyles, I wonder if we still remember why we give thanks at this time of year. It seems that Thanksgiving has become just a prelude to the frenzy of pre-holiday shopping that we are constantly reminded of for weeks before the holiday.

What we generally refer to as the original Thanksgiving was, in a sense, a celebration of survival. It was in all probability a typical harvest feast that was common in most agrarian societies.

The settlers who arrived in Plymouth, Mass., less than a year before had just begun to farm and with the help of the Native Americans were able to grow enough to survive the winter. From those desperate beginnings, through good times and bad, we have continued to survive and prosper. Our prosperity has in no small way been due to the rich bounty of the land and the hard work of the men and women of agriculture.

This past year was an example of how difficult it is to farm and grow our food. The spring started off with seemingly unending rain, record lake levels and severe flooding. The summer followed with heat and drought and then the fall finished it all up with Tropical Storm Irene. It is this kind of uncertainty and adversity that farmers have had to endure throughout history. There are many variables that affect the growing of crops and livestock. The weather, plant and animal diseases, insect pests, the availability of labor and machinery breakdowns all contribute to the uncertainty and risk involved in farming. The fact that most of us no longer have to depend on our backyard garden to survive is surely something for which to be thankful.

While recognizing the difficulties of growing your own food, it has become more and more popular in recent times. Even though the American food supply is the best in the world — abundant, safe, low cost and with wide choices and high nutritional value, there are many reasons to want to become more self sufficient.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Owners show off their animals at fair

    It's no easy task to prepare animals for annual show where judges rate livestock on traits according to breed, according to Columnist Peter Hagar.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Making good hay a challenge

    Even with today's technology and weather forecasting, getting in a load of good hay comes with lots of pitfalls, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg New farms take careful planning

    While people start small farm operations for various reasons, it takes plenty of hard work, dedication and information to be successful, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Science, economics key to farming

    Modern agriculture has been a steady evolution of adaption to changing times, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Warm spring rains bring growth

    But pastures shouldn't just be left alone, they need attention just like other crops, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Conservation programs offered

    No-till drill allows farmers to enhance their soil and promote conservation at the same time, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Watch out for farm machinery

    Accidents on roadways involving farm vehicles can be avoided with a little bit of caution, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Better bulls improve beef quality

    Artificial insemination can be used to get the most from a beef-cattle herd, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Healthy environment good for farming

    Best practices and conservation are top priorities for modern farmers, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 2, 2014 1 Photo