President’s Report: Definition of a family farm and rural Kansas

16 06 2011

I’m sure that I’ve rambled on about the problems with writing in the past but here we go again.

I’ve known for some time that I had a deadline for my presidents’ report. Everybody else got their stuff in like they were supposed to; and then there is me…. It used to drive Emil crazy, now I’m working on Lauren!

It isn’t the time to write, I love writing and can kick out an article in a couple of hours, it’s the inspiration.

This time I was in a depression funk and there just wasn’t anything that moved my soul and time was running out. Lord knows there is enough to worry one out in rural America to discuss.

The horrible tornadoes that devastated Joplin and Reading and countless other storms across our region. We could discuss the horrible drought that is affecting the high plains and much of Kansas.

We could discuss the horrible rains that are affecting so much of the corn belt and northern states.

We could discuss the concentration and GIPSA, or the flooding or the economy (crap, now I’m getting depressed again).

Then last night sitting at a ball game (one day before Lauren would take a gun to me) it hit me like a hammer just what this article should be….the definition of a family farm and rural Kansas.

The kids family to the north (with grandson #1) and the kids family to the south (with grandson #2) came home for the weekend to participate in a local slow-pitch softball tournament which was a benefit fund-raiser. Those of us who are cynical parents refer to it as “beer-ball.”

It isn’t often that the bulk of the family is home and even though it’s the busiest time of year for me except for basic responsibilities I took the weekend off to watch ball games and spend quality time with my kids and grandsons even though my more responsible neighbors were hard at it. (The grandkids just don’t come home often enough).

We even managed to barbecue today and do a family swim in the creek. (That used to be so easy to throw the kids in the back and head for the crick, now it’s kids, spouses, grandkids, dogs, skin protector, diapers, geeesh)

Anyhow, I’m at the ball games and ran into one of Zach’s childhood and still best friends. I had coached him a bunch through his youth and his dad was one of my best friends before he passed on.

He got a hot-dog degree from K-State and headed out across the nation getting involved in huge construction jobs. I was surprised to see him at the tournament and asked him what brought him back to Onaga.

He told me that he moved back home and was going back to school again. He intends to get a teaching degree and teach science. WOW!

I’m sitting there at the ball games watching the games and thinking about how much the local community was involved with and watching all the events and I’m thinking about the young man who went out and seen the world and decided what his quality-of-life goal was is to take a huge cut in income to come back and teach the next generation, and how nice it will be to have him as part of the community again.

Then I started thinking about how a few years ago a family in the community had their two sons become disabled from a horrible form of MS and how they were going to be forced to relocate because their century old 2 story home would not work any longer for the boys and how the community came together to build an addition on the home specifically tailored to address the needs of the boys.

This is what builds a community, the people OF the community working for the common good. This is why I’m so proud to be a part of a rural community in Kansas.

And family farmers are so much an intricate part of a rural community. The families from those farms populate the schools, the churches, the hospitals, and everything else.

When those family farms disappear to larger and larger hi-tech agriculture communities loose their life-blood.

That is so very noticeable as I travel the western part of Kansas.

I often travel quite a bit in the high-plains of the Texas panhandle and nowhere else have I seen the loss of communities’ souls like I have there.

I will be in the middle of super-modern, large-scale ag everywhere but then as I walk the main streets of the county seats the businesses are all boarded up, the hospital is closed, and the community has died.

What I’m trying to say is that what makes a farm a family farm isn’t necessarily the size of the operation but how the farm and their participants fixes itself into the local community.

I’m saying not the local economy, the local community.

We need each other even though sometimes we think we don’t need anybody. This is what makes a community a home.

On kind of, but not really, another note, a few months ago I was asked to participate in an interview for something called “What’s your calling?”

They set the interview up at the William Allen White home in Emporia and sat me down in William Allen White’s chair.

I was humbled by the surroundings but mostly worried about how embarrassing it would be if a fat old boy like me would break this historical chair.

Anyhow a Youtube video of a couple of minutes of a several hour interview and some un-used clips from “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” showed up last week out there in the internet never-never land.

Here’s the link if you want to watch this fat old boy put up hay and ramble about agriculture and the next generation.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: