Today, possibly while you are reading this, North Carolina Farm Bureau leaders are gathering in Raleigh for 2017’s Policy Review Day. No, we’re not talking about insurance policies, but rather policies that address emerging issues and areas of concern to North Carolina farmers. Things like labor, transportation, property rights, taxes, regulatory reform, and more. It’s a day for NCFB’s farmer members to come together to talk about what’s going on at their farm, and to start figuring out how to solve tomorrow’s problems.
My husband, John, and I belong to the weekend warriors: farmers who are dependent on off-farm income to sustain our families, provide insurance, and help plan for the future. We both work full-time jobs off the farm, have a toddler, families, friends, and church. As you can imagine, we don’t have a lot of spare time. Our farming is jammed into nights, weekends, vacation days, and holidays. Our time spent on the farm is carefully planned in advance; we divide and conquer to accomplish more tasks, and more often than not our to-do list gets precariously longer instead of encouragingly shorter.
While most folks had 4th of July plans to tan on the beach, my tan would come from wearing a tank top while spraying herbicides on multi-flora rose and blackberry bushes. While others drove the parkway, John drove the tractor to catch up on clipping our pastures. While families watched fireworks that night, we drove home with our sleeping toddler in the backseat.
Our farming day started like most at our farm. My parents picked up our son to take him back to their farm for the day. John filled the tractor with diesel, and I mixed the tank of herbicide. Bluebird skies and no breeze told me it would be a great day for the task at hand. With no drift, I could get a LOT accomplished in the limited time we had that day.
On my second tank, I decided to head up a logging road cut through the pasture to take care of some blackberry canes that were both at the base of the road and at the top. I had finished spraying the bushes at the base of the road, and was heading to the top when the front, right side of the 4-wheeler started to rise, and in the blink of an eye, there was no doubt it was rolling.
Earlier this year, we wrote about Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Program, and how engaging and developing the next generation of American farmers is so important. This week, we’re sharing the story of Jamie and Ryan Clark, a young farming couple from Rockingham County who fell in love with “farm life” and the young farming community.
Seven years ago, my husband Ryan and I didn’t own a farm, much less have plans to own a farm. We were like most young couples, working 50 hours a week to make a living and start our family. We were interested in agriculture, and even had a couple of cows and a small garden in our backyard. That’s when we became involved with the Young Farmers & Ranchers Program after our District Field Representative suggest we attend the NCFB State YF&R Conference. That experience gave us the motivation to grow our small backyard garden into the lifestyle that we wanted for our family.