October 12 was National Farmers’ Day. If you missed it, it’s not too late to hug and thank your favorite farmer. (I did mine!) It used to be known as Old Farmer’s Day, held in October when farmers were finished harvesting and had time to stop for a bit and celebrate. Records show National Farmer’s Day events date back to the 1800s, according to www.agamerica.com.
To continue what started a century ago, the 46th Annual Old Farmer’s Day is being held in Loranger, La., October 26-27. The event is a throwback to sustainable farming and farming practices from long ago. The two-day celebration features several demonstrations including hog butchering where guests witness the process of killing, skinning and preparing a hog for smoking. My mother-in-law still talks about the ham they would hang and cure in the smokehouse on her Oklahoma farm.
The event will also include fieldwork with horses. Some of the demonstrations include discing, plowing, sulky plowing, fertilizing, seed spreading, road grading, and hay cutting and baling with equipment from the 1800s through the early 1900s. According to www.oldfarmersday.com, many of the present-day Amish communities in the Northern U.S. still use some of those old implements.
Another demonstration will be sheep shearing. Rather than using electric clippers, hand-held clipping shears are used. Can you imagine?
Contests for the young and young at heart are also held. The children have sack races, potato roll and chip throwing, while the adults have a split rail fence building contest where they are only allowed to use busting mauls and wedges to construct a fence.
Other contests include, “horse power” machines, that use a single horse to operate the machinery to grind sugar cane. As the horse moves, the gears pull the sugar cane through, grinding the juice from the stalks. It is then cooked down into syrup for onlookers to taste! It sounds simple, but I’m pretty sure it was not!
Lastly, they’ll have a log loading contest, where they load trees onto a trailer using horses and some chains and a teamster contest where teams of Belgians or mules must listen and respond to their owner who is navigating them through several obstacles. The driver must also get them to stop and wait while he or she completes a task at each obstacle.
Those were simpler but harder times, weren’t they? Or would the farmers from back then say these are simpler but harder times? Maybe a little of both.
Who will you thank today? Who comes to mind when you think about agriculture? To whom can you write a note, send a text or call today to thank them for their hard work, sacrifice, and determination. Farm Press would like to say thank you to America’s producers, their spouses and children ─ the Family Farm ─ for all that you do!