Guide Folks, This Aint Normal: A Farmers Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

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Resumo From farmer Joel Salatin's point of view, life in the 21st century just ain't normal.


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The Chosen Yoke. Memories Under the Linden Tree. Knock, Knock Who's There? Of course, Daniel had grown up around the tractor with me, so he knew where everything was: clutch, throttle, brake, gearshift, steering wheel. I put it in gear for him, let out the clutch, and then jumped off, leaving him standing in front of the seat holding on to the steering wheel.

I began loading the hay bales and he drove expertly alongside, put-putting along in fine fashion. When we were finished, he stepped on the clutch to disengage the transmission and I jumped on the tractor to drive it to the barn. That was a Saturday, and the next day at our church fellowship group Daniel beamed to everyone about what he had done.

Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

I remember when I was about the same age working with my dad. We were feeding a herd of cows in the winter and had the big dump truck full of hay bales. Dad needed to throw them off and I was his only crew. This allows all the cows to get to the hay at once and it also reduces their tromping on it and wasting it. The easiest way to do this is to throw it off while the truck is moving.

So Dad put the truck in gear and let out the clutch, and I stood on the seat and steered. We were on a long, flat ridge. Dad put the truck in low first and then climbed into the back to throw off the hay. When we finished, he praised me for doing such a good job. When our daughter Rachel was eight or nine years old, she began baking zucchini bread and pound cakes for our farm customers.

Not only was she a truly gifted baker, but as a marketer, who could possibly refuse the cherubic face and expectant countenance of a child? It was delicious. What does that do for the personhood of a child? All of us crave affirmation, especially affirmation that genuinely recognizes our contribution to society. Being able to touch others in a meaningful way with our gifts and talents creates reciprocal affirmation. And while I may insult some people, I submit that this affirmation has a different quality, a different intensity, than simply being praised for winning a game.

Perhaps acting in a dramatic production comes closer. But when we create something that we can sensually experience, and that represents our ingenuity, the gratitude on the part of the recipient speaks to deeper levels of our personhood. Then she added a housecleaning business, and by her midteens she was employing others.

We homeschooled and never had a television in the house, which created time to pursue these entrepreneurial activities. Contrary to much popular opinion, I would suggest that this was the ultimate preparation for adulthood, rather than an adolescence of coddling and endless recreation. Our son Daniel started a rabbit project when he was eight.

Joel Salatin - Folks, This Ain't Normal | Book Passage

Some friends moved to the city and their new lease restrictions excluded animals. Their three rabbits needed a new home and Daniel took them in. We built a portable rabbit shelter and he moved it around the yard, fertilizing and mowing. We assumed that not too many people ate rabbit, but hoped that enough would that Daniel would be able to sell some. Within two weeks after the order blank went out, Daniel had orders for rabbits. This was quite a tall order, even for rabbits.

It launched his business and he gradually built it up to a sizable operation that recently has been commissioned to independent contractors on the farm. This teaches the value of a dollar, persistence, thrift, and good math skills.

Joel Salatin Quotes

The earlier someone learns the difference between profit and loss, the better. I well remember Daniel going down to the farm store and purchasing half a ton of unmedicated rabbit pellets when he was about twelve years old. This was not pay for chores. It was self-earned, saved income from their businesses and provided a wonderful nest egg for future pursuits. That, my friends, is liberating and launching.


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  • Our grandson Travis was only about five years old the first time he went with me to raise and lower the tractor front-end loader for something I was doing in the field. All he had to do was work the joystick that operates the hydraulics to move the loader up and down.

    He barely touched the ground for the next day, making sure everyone knew he had helped Grandpa. We were a team, there in the field, old geezer and kindergartner, working together to solve a common problem, sharing in the triumph of a physical, seeable, measurable job well done. Recently I was in Washington State conducting a seminar, and a middle-aged lady told me her grow-up story.

    She said when she was a girl, when school dismissed for the summer, the apple orchards in the area would lease the school buses and print a picking schedule in fliers in the newspaper. The school buses would come through the city on a schedule, just like the ice cream truck, and if you were older than ten years old, you could get on the bus and ride out to the orchards and pick apples for the day. This gave young people spending money, physical exercise, and affirmation as contributing members of society. At the end of the day, the buses would deliver them back home and they were richer than the money in their pockets.

    Can you imagine such a reasonable activity occurring today? The insurance underwriter for the school district would go apoplectic that the buses were being used for something other than carting brains to school. On our farm, we routinely have younger teens in the fifteen- to seventeen-year range wanting to come and work for the summer.

    Then as a culture we walk around shaking our heads in bewilderment at these young people with retarded maturity. Our culture now denies young people the very activities that build their self-worth and incorporate them as valuable members of society. Rather than seeing children as an asset, we now view them as a liability. What happened to the day when they were considered a worthwhile asset? Our societal paralysis to leverage youthful energy in a more meaningful way than soccer, ballet, and video games indicates profound imagination constipation. This protective timidity that denies our young people risk and self-actualization keeps them from attaining emotional, economic, and spiritual maturity.

    Worse than being hurt on the job is growing up without a sense of self-worth. Gangs are a direct result of this societal abnormality.