Farmer, A Day in the Life of Feeding the World
Where does your food come from? While some of us reap the produce of our home gardens, mostly we get what eat from the supermarket. But, who’s responsible for the existence of it? In honour of national farmer’s day (October 12th), today’s blog highlights these resilient key workers. Plus, we follow along on a day in life of a farmer.
What is a Farmer?
A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture: they practise cultivating crops and live stock. They raise these living organisms for food or raw materials. Modern definitions give the title to farm and land owners. Thus, making the farm’s employees farm workers or farm hands. However, older definitions award the title to any person who promotes or improves the growth of plants, land, and/or crops; and/or raises animals (live stock or fish) by labour and attention.
Types of Farming
The type of farmer determines the specific farming activities they do.
- Arable. Growing crops only in warm climates. It requires gentle sloping or flat land with deep, fertile soil that is not too wet or dry.
- Pastoral. Rearing animals in cold and wet climates which are not ideal for growing crops. Farmers in the Highlands of Scotland are great examples of this type.
- Mixed. Includes growing crops and rearing animals of the same piece of land. Thus, creating a relationship where the animals provide the manure that improves soil fertility for the crops.
- Subsistence. These farms are self-sufficient and generate materials and food for personal use.
- Commercial. With a purpose of making a profit, the activities done on this farm are on a large scale. It can include “monoculture” farming when only a single type of cash crop (ex: flowers or coffee) are grown.
- Extensive and Intensive. Tilling the land with the aim of increasing output.
- Nomadic. Moving animals from one place to the another in search of pasture and water.
- Sedentary. Tilling the same piece of land for many years. This is what fostered the development of early civilisations.
- Poultry. Rearing turkeys and chickens for meat and eggs. Free-range products involves feeding these animals of natural pasture.
- Fish. Also known as aquaculture, these farmers raise a large number of fish in large tanks or fish ponds.
The History of the Farmer
The act of farming dates back as far as the 12,000 years ago. By the bronze age, humankind relied heavily on the growing on crops and the process of irrigation.
Irrigation is the artificial way of applying control amounts of water to land. It assists in the production of crops. It is the basis for the growth of economies and societies across the globe. Not only because having crops allowed for eating and trading purposes, but because this process also aided in cooling livestock, surpassing dust, disposing of sewage, and later mining.
As for animal husbandry (raising livestock for their meat, other materials, and to perform tasks), it also has existed for thousands of years. First we domesticated dogs, then goats and sheep, followed by pigs, and lastly horses. Domestication means these animals are no longer “wild”: farmers adapted them for human use.
A Day in the Life
What does a farmer, working on a mixed farm, do everyday?
- First, they awaken at pre-dawn. The farmer feeds the cows and calves at 6.15am, then milking begins at 6.30am. Before the sun fully rises, they also clean the sheds.
- After the animals are taken care of, it’s time to prepare for the day. They must check that their tools and materials are clean and ready to work.
- For the rest of the day, activities include checking on crops, plowing or bailing up grass for cows to eat in the winter, and general farm maintenance. Their day ends around 7.30-8pm.
Farmers must battle weather conditions, working weekends, and never really being able to take time. However, they admit that the satisfaction of making something with their own hands makes the challenges worth it!