Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The F Word

Big is celebrated in many ways because it often equates to success. But for some reason in today's world, big farming often gets a bad rap. I ponder this everyday, and especially when I get the opportunity to share with someone what my family does for a living.

Farming and the Nunnenkamp family goes together like peanut butter and jelly. I was never fortunate enough to know my great grandparents but they starting farming the American soil when they immigrated over to the U.S. My grandpa Fred is the oldest of 11 children and I am pretty positive he was born knowing how to farm. Except for a few years where he was overseas serving our great country in World War II, he has spent his life tilling the soil and turning seeds into success. Now 95 years later (he will be 95 in a few weeks, so Happy Early Birthday Grandpa!), he is still doing what he was born to do, FARM. Except now, he has his sons and grandsons by his side, and some days even his great grandson. We are a FAMILY FARM and darn proud of it.

So back to the "big is bad" idea. Big does not mean that a farm is not a family business. Our farm did not start big, it has grown over time.  The size of farm my grandpa had 50 years ago was not big enough to be run by my dad and uncle when they decided to join the operation. And the size of farm my grandpa, dad, and uncle had was not big enough to be run by 3 additional members, my cousin and two brothers as well. And I assume that a few years down the road when the next generation wants to join the farm, expansion will occur again.

In order for farmers to work together and farm as a family, operations have to evolve and grow.  Just because we are bigger than most does not mean that we do things different than any other farmer. We still have the same practices and take care of the environment.  We are stewards to the land and work hard to grow crops the best that we can. It literally breaks my heart when I hear someone say that big farms are, I cant believe I am about to say this F word, "Factory Farms". Yes, we have 450 head of cattle but we raise and care for them the same way as if we had 50 cows.  Yes we have 8,000 acres of crops, but we grow and care for them with the same passion as if we only had 1,000 acres. Just because one farm is bigger than the other doesn't mean one is bad and one is good. We need all kinds and types of farms to create diversity and feed our ever growing world. So it is not fair to label big farms as bad or "factory farms".
Smile boys!...or just open your mouth and stare awkwardly, either works.

Being a farmer is NOT an easy job.  There are no weekends off or paid holiday vacations.  The farm doesn't close at 5pm or open at 8am.  It is 24/7.  I was once told that farming is not a job, it is a lifestyle. And that is a fact. My family lives and breaths farming, and agriculture in general. And the best part is that we all breath it together.  Working alongside your family is one of the greatest blessings a person can have.  I am sure there are days when my dad thinks my brothers are idiots or that everybody else thinks that dad is being bossy ( its okay we all love each other :), but at the end of the day I am sure I can speak for them when I say that they wouldn't change it for anything.

So I guess to sum it all up, in the Nunnenkamp family, there are some F- words we like, some F-words I am sure get used when they shouldn't on the farm, and some F-words that definitely don't describe us. But at our farm, F stands for FAMILY.

...that's what she said

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