Methuselah and the Good Earth—Aging Farmers

As this article (Experts Clash on Aging Farmers) explains, many agriculture economists warn that farmers are getting old and staying on their land longer, delaying the turnover to a younger generation. Others say the fears are overstated and the United States likely will have little problem replacing elderly farmers.

A Farm is a Hard Place to Leave

Speaking of aging farmers—at 87, Dad still plays with tractors—real ones in the field. Like many American Gothics, he doesn’t want to hang up his pitch fork. But for years, he also turned literary soil with a type of newsletter containing analog Tweets he gathered from the old boys. His hometown news sent through snail mail contained short anecdotes about rural life in the wayback days. 
Some of his “Aging Farmer Tweets
-Stealing watermelons was a high-risk form of entertainment then. Old man Jones’ 12-gauge sounded like a canon echoing across a moonlit melon patch.
-Bootleggers were the main law benders in the community according to Bill. Few got rich in the small town, but most managed to turn a profit, depending on how much they watered down the alcohol.
-One old-timer in church used to chew a wad of tobacco, which wasn’t a problem unless the sermon got lengthy. His cheeks got fuller and fuller and people often got splashed with tobacco juice if they followed too close as he left the church and let go with a big brown mouthful.

-Myrtle Martin’s Café was a favorite hangout for high school boys who gobbled her saucer-sized, ten-cent hamburgers.

-Dale said his high school graduation in 1931 was low key because both banks in town closed a month earlier. After their banquet, the kids looked for jobs candling eggs or shocking oats.

-In the days before health food, Uncle Berry ate gravy and fried mush and lived to be 93. During Prohibition, he also kept his cupboard well stocked with vanilla extract and other condiments containing a pinch of alcohol.

-Cousin Harold says he doesn’t enjoy winter as much as he did as a kid in Zearing. He and his pals used to skate down Minerva Creek seven miles to St. Anthony, then catch a ride back in the engine of the old M & StL train. 

-Boar Benny’s Café got its nickname because Benny kept hogs in his back yard, and some said it was best to order nothin’ but pop and wrapped candy—things Benny didn’t touch with his pig-handlin’ hands.

-Dale said they’d sell fifty to seventy-five cases of eggs at Madison’s store on a busy Saturday night. One customer occasionally stuffed a few “free eggs” in his overcoat pocket to take home, so Dale’s friend, Harold, used to bump against the egg-lifter so he had scrambled eggs for supper.
by dan gogerty (photo, usda)

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