A New Thanksgiving Tradition in the Making? #Thankafarmer

Thanksgiving has always been an incredible part of my life.  I’ve celebrated the holidays many years with vast number of family and other years I’ve been in faraway places like India or Italy where friends have attempted to make me feel at home, particularly for that meal.

My mom & brother headed to his big red barn to check on the chickens & goats.

This year, we will likely have 60-65 people together and most of us will spend the whole weekend together!  It’s easy to give thanks for such a gathering of family and friends.  With a crowd that big, figuring out who brings what for the big meal, is a challenge — lots of special family favorites, also interesting how many ways you can fix dressing/stuffing and turkey (I prefer dressing and Cajun fried!).  We’ve been busy for months organizing — who stays where, what sort of games will keep folks busy pre-meal, etc.

As the discussion in #AgChat progressed last night, I thought about the things we usually give thanks for and some things we may have missed.  Although the scale of my Thanksgiving may be a bit different from some, at the end of the day, we give thanks for the same things many others do:

  • Food prepared for our nourishment.
  • The health of our loved ones.
  • Safe travels for those who have been on the road & will be returning.
  • Major events in our family — graduations, new jobs, weddings, births, etc.

One thing that makes my family fit soundly in the U.S. mainstream is that very few of the 60-65 people there grew up with any connection to agriculture.  However, unlike many tables in America, we have found agriculture for the first time in generations and have multiple agricultural perspectives represented at our tables.

As I thought about this, I realized that many times people have suggested it would be interesting to be a “fly on the wall” at my family Thanksgivings. It’s not the bedlam of a large crowd but it’s agriculture that makes people think hmmmm…   I’ve worked in agriculture for decades and currently work for Monsanto.  My brother & sister-in-law are both professionals who bought a farm several years ago and grow the vast majority of the food they & close friends eat.  So while I work directly with biotech products most days, it intrigues people to know my brother has chosen to grow food organically.  I simply believe our connections to agriculture are both awesome.

The agriculture I engage in centers around producing food, feed and fiber for the people nearby and around the world.  Most farmers have a family connection to agriculture and commitments to hands-on learning as well as more formal education.   A farmer I work with may grow three or four crops and they may or may not have livestock.  There is a very strong environmental connection as they look to leave the land better than they found it.  And they are looking at population growth and the challenges of food production, distribution, etc and are working to strengthen our communities.  I see individual faces of farmers I’ve talked to as I even type the words.

With my brother, he comes together with family & friends to produce their food.  They have discovered the best ways to grow crops, care for livestock and a lot of what he’s learned has been through talking to others, reading or simply trial and error.  He has an incredible environmental mindset and he’s looked at how he lives, what he takes from the earth and puts back in.  He’s not talking his talk, he’s living it day in and day out.  He’s feeding his family and several others near him — they have a strength of community that is rare.

This year, I intend to raise my thanks for the farmers who helped produce the food we have.  Those thanks will include my brother and a clear picture of his barn and fields, as well as farmers around the U.S. who I’ve had the chance to meet.  I’ll thank farmers for:

  • Producing the food, feed & fiber that sustains us including the wheat used to make the pancakes & the strawberries that top them
  • Conserving our resources both the drip irrigation system on a big field or a single solar panel
  • Finding the approach that works best on their farm

If you want to read more about how people are giving thanks for farmers, look at the #thankafarmer hashtag on twitter or check out some of the following:

  • My blog about for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association — Thanking a Farmer for Introducing Me to the World of Beef Cattle – Beef from Pasture to Plate http://bit.ly/5DpkxC

If you want a place to post your thanks, feel free to post here or on any of the blogs above.  If you aren’t on twitter, I can tweet it out for you!  We’re hoping a lot of people tweeting, Facebooking, etc starting Wednesday morning and lasting through the holiday.

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December 01, 2009–>

Ag History Through LIFE’s Lens

Art, Artifacts and Photos , History of Agriculture , Rural LifeA farmer uses an old-fashioned push plowLast Monday marked 73 years since LIFE magazine debuted. That’s 73 years of powerful images that pull us in, tell a story and convey history.

But did you know that LIFE has made its archives available through Google Image Search? A year into the effort, the LIFE Photo Archive is well on its way to the 10 million images it expects to encompass. With 97% of the photos never published before, it delivers page after page of surprises, along with the famous and familiar.

Of course, the collection covers as many topics as LIFE itself, with pics stretching as far back as the 1750s, but I wanted to see how it captured agricultural history.

Turns out, it does so pretty well.

Meet yesterday’s farmers. Step back in time to a husking bee. Examine irrigation methods. Inspect pigs of all stripes. Kick the tires on a few tractors.

See the rugged beauty of ranches in the American West. Glimpse gen-u-ine cowboys doing their thing. Check out how agricultural equipment has changed through the years, even how stilts have been used to get fruit pickers to the fruit.

Or focus your attention on a specific decade to explore images of U.S. agriculture from the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s or ’60s.

Searching is easy — enter words or phrases, throw in a decade if you’d like (e.g., 1950s) — and you’re off.

Not every photo has labels assigned, and the quality of descriptive information varies, but for casual exploration, it’s a breeze, not to mention fascinating.

Note the rules, though. All pics are labeled “For personal non-commercial use only,” which means you can use them under those limited circumstances but copyright and ownership remains with Time, Inc. More detailed permissions information is lacking, so take care when using these images, even the old ones. I doubt there’s much if anything in the public domain here.

Posted by Mary Ann Leonard

Added to Art, Artifacts and Photos and History of Agriculture and Rural Life on December 01, 2009 EST | Permalink

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Lively discussions and different opinions are encouraged within the bounds of respectful civil discourse. Questionable language, personal attacks, off-topic comments, and gratuitous links will either be edited or deleted. Comments are moderated and will not appear on InfoFarm until they have been approved.

Wow!!! What a treasure store you have revealed for us here. Thanks so very much for this splendid archive of images of rural American life. I assume you already know of one of our own USDA image works that’s also very fine: The Face of Rural America. This was the 1976 edition of the Yearbook of Agriculture series. There are 8 major subject sections, from weather to people to farm business and more.

The LIFE collection is indeed awesome, adding much for those interested in visual perspectives.

Thanks, again!
– Karl

Submitted by: Karl S on December 3, 2009 12:34 PM

Thanks for the heads-up about the Yearbook of Ag collection, Karl. I’ve just browsed through a few of the sections and am as awed by it as by the LIFE archives. Very cool.

One tip for those who check it out:

Once you’re in a section (like that on Farm Life, for example) click on the text “View all Pages in Browser.” That will load all the pages of that section so that you can easily scroll down the page to see them, rather than having to hit “Next Page” time and again.

Submitted by: Mary Ann on December 3, 2009 01:55 PM

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This blog does not represent official communications from the National Agricultural Library, the Agricultural Research Service or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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November 25, 2009–>

Tweet Thanks to Our Farmers

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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