Here it is early September and we have a holiday titled Labor Day to honor the people who work and possibly, work itself. We honor people who work and their work by taking the day off from work.
Maybe it should be called Labor-free Day. But nobody asks me for advice so it will stay as Labor Day and we will just have to muddle on.
There is no question the labor of farming has changed from my dad’s time to mine. It changed from his dad’s time to his as well.
In three generations, we have gone from horse drivers to computer operators.
The change in work can be seen in the tools we have. My dad wore out scoop shovels and bushel baskets.
For him, the introduction of an aluminum shovel and aluminum bushel basket was an advancement in technology.
I can still see in my mind the worn out steel shovels and baskets from the years he would use them to feed his cattle, pigs, and chickens.
The new aluminum shovel and basket was lighter in weight, thankfully, and did not rust. That was a big improvement.
We can wear out a shovel around here occasionally, but it is not because we wore it out from daily use but because today’s shovels are even lighter in weight because they use plastic and thinner materials that make them lighter and probably more importantly, cheaper.
My dad would not approve of today’s shovels. He would ask where we kept with the real shovels.
I am not sure I could find a bushel basket around here made of aluminum or anything else.
We have pails we use that most likely originally held something else when new and once empty were still usable so we kept them.
I believe I would prefer a pail to a basket anyway.
My dad would hoist his basket that was usually full of hog or chicken feed on his shoulders and that is how he carried it if he had to walk any distance.
Those bushel baskets were used for many other things such as containing runty baby pigs that needed to be brought inside if the weather was too cold.
A little straw in the bottom of the basket and an overnight next to the heat register in the kitchen made a difference.
Sick animals always had a bushel basket of feed next to them when they were separated from the herd while they healed or rested.
Those were the baskets that that a bad handle and could not be used easily for everyday work.
So Labor Day for my dad, and I am sure for his dad, was still labor intensive.
There were livestock chores every day. The animals did not observe Labor Day. They needed to be fed.
Keeping everyone fed on Labor Day may be something my mother wondered about.
If this is Labor Day holiday, why am I working even harder than the rest of the month preparing even more food?
I will never know if she thought that, but I can say I never heard her complain.
In fact, for all the labor my parents did, I do not believe I ever heard them complain.
Their attitude was that this is something that needs to be done and I will get it done.
In addition, I need to get this done, because I have something else to do once this is finished.
I believe I heard my dad say, with a smile on his face, “Around here, everyday is Labor Day.”
He probably was not the only dad who ever said that. What a great way and a great place to grow up.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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