Thursday, January 17, 2013

Digging Deeper--Losing the Old Ways?

The Farmer has been looking for a cultivator that will really, really do the job. There are as many different styles of cultivators as there are flavors of Hudsonville ice cream. And they're all a bit different. Which one would work the best for us? Today The Farmer called our soil consultant, who is a seasoned farmer with roots in organic farming. Joe was able to tell The Farmer exactly what kind of cultivator we should be looking for. Gave him four names to look for, and pros and cons for each. And then proceeded to tell him how best to use each kind, down to how fast to drive through the field and what should be happening as he's cultivating.

While The Farmer was telling me all this at suppertime, I just sat there thinking. Finally I said, "Who will know enough about cultivating to teach others once people like Joe are gone?"

I just read a headline today that "50 is the new 70" in the workforce. In other words, 50-year-olds, don't let the door hit your backside on the way out. We can handle it from here, thank you very much.

Now granted, my kids can run circles around me in techie-land. They can do in their sleep what I struggle with for half a day with a cell phone, a website, or a digital photo. But is that all there is? Do 50 year olds and 60 year olds and, for pete's sake, 90 year olds have nothing of value to impart? Nothing?

Back to farming. Very few farmers cultivate anymore. They all spray for weeds. Much easier. Instant gratification. But cultivating--cultivating is a dance, an art. And it uses equipment that is becoming increasingly obsolete. Who will teach us the dance steps, the way to hold the brush, how to read the music? Who will help us determine the proper equipment needed? Who will pass on this knowledge when the seasoned ones are gone?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this--and whether you see this same type of thing happening in your corner of the world.


  1. My husband says this is happening in the tool and die world as well. The older experienced tool makers are retiring and the younger guys aren't being taught the same skills.

  2. so sad! These skills are treasures! It reminds me of my mom who is full of experince in everything from canning, to gardening, to making bologna from scratch. There seems to be a huge interest in learning "back to the basic" skills from younger people though, and she is always ready and willing to teach anyone who takes the time to learn.

  3. "Tradition Bearers" That's what one lady that interviewed me at a craft show was calling me (a spinner) and many of the other crafters/demonstrators at that show!
    I grew up learning some of the "old ways" from the older generations, now I am the older generation! There are younger ones interested in learning, but more as a hobby, not a way of life. If only common sense could be taught!
    It's our job to learn what we can, and pass on what we know.

  4. I think we stand a lot to lose if we take for granted the knowledge and experience of older generations.

    I hope I'm not being a naive 29 year old, but I'd like to think there is an interest surging for craftsmanship and back to the basics skills and I do hope traditions and knowledge will be passed on!

    Hopefully, the technology your kids are so good at figuring out, will help preserve and teach others. Now people aren’t just learning about canning, but they are taking pictures and blogging about it, preserving the craft for the next generation.

  5. I tell my dad and husband this all the time...I crave the information and knowledge that they have, gained over a lifetime of living and doing, that I just don't have! And trying to absorb every bit of it that I can...thanks for the good post, Lona!

  6. Growing up in the city, I spent mostly all my summers in Puerto Rico with my father. I saw things that some kids will never see or care to see. My father is a farmer, builder, cook etc. There are many things that I still want to learn and if I have no one that can teach me I go and learn myself. I just started grow organic vegetables in my backyard with my kids and we have soooo much to learn. :-) I enjoy reading your blog. Brenda


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