I just finished filling out my 2012 USDA Agriculture census. Talk about boring. But when I finished, I couldn't help but laugh as I found one very stark fact in front of my face: I am a lunatic farmer.
The census wanted to know how many tractors I have. How many silos I have. How many cotton pickers, grain harvesters, migrant workers, and feedlot cattle I have. I don't have any of that. It wanted to know how many hundreds of acres I rented out in 2012. How I irrigated my cropland (that I don't have), what chemicals I sprayed this year (which I don't do), what my profits were at the end of the year...
I am a lunatic farmer who has no silo. Who feeds no corn and soy to her cows. Who owns no tractor. Shucks, I don't even have processing equipment for my poultry. I am a lunatic farmer who believes animals should be on grass, eating grass. Who believes that silos are unnecessary, and so are manure lagoons. A lunatic farmer who doesn't believe in feedlots or feeding candy to cows because it might make them fatten quicker. I am a lunatic farmer who laughs at her pigs while she scratches them behind the ears. Who knows her goats by name and can tell you in extreme detail about the lay of the property. I can show and tell you where the dry spots are, where the wet spots are, where the good spots are, and where the bad spots are. I am not only a lunatic farmer, I am a small farmer. I do not need 100 acres like I used to think I did. Ten acres would probably suit me just fine. Maybe 20 acres if I was really going "whole hog", but not one hundred acres... Size is a curse; only a lunatic farmer would realize that though.
I am a lunatic farmer who wants her hogs to root in the dirt. Who wants chickens who know how to chase a bug. Who wants cows who know how to convert grass into milk and meat. Who wants to use draft animals instead of an oil chugging tractor. Who am I kidding here? I am an utter lunatic!!
I have no migrant workers because I do not need them. I have no cotton picker, because I grow no GMO cotton. I have no tractor because I can't afford one, and don't believe in going into that much debt for something I can borrow from a neighbor. I feed no corn and soy because God didn't make ruminants to eat those things. This is sheer lunacy, by most of America's standards. As a "farmer" aren't I SUPPOSED to have a feedlot, manure lagoon, and green tractor? That's what the government says.
But a lunatic farmer knows better. We know that farming is a whole lot more fun without those things (well, okay, the tractor actually might be kind of fun. I give you permission to buy me one.). We know that we really don't need all that grain for the cows. We don't need that manure lagoon. We don't need dark building to house thousands of animals. Instead we lunatics get to experience happy animals that are on pasture, and are healing the land and people, rather than hurting it. We grow our crops with compost, beneficial insects, and companion planting. We know the whole story behind what we grow, and we know who eats our food.
I am a lunatic farmer. And I have never been happier.