You’ll notice that this post has none of my normal tags. That’s because it’s mostly for some people who have been following this blog for sometime.
I’ve been going through some serious introspection about many things, including this blog, as of late. It’s been a pet project of mine, to help me chronicle my own life and ideas as I grow as a farmer and a person. I’ve learned a lot of things from this blog. I’ve seen how I’ve changed my perspectives over the years on everything from bees to politics. And it’s very interesting and useful to me to have this chronicle of my life. It’s a sort of public diary and also a platform for me to advocate for things I am passionate about. Mostly farming, homesteading, and a search for sustainability within those acts.
Recently I have been speaking about the immediate troubles that plague my life. Some of these problems are from my own mind, some from broader outside forces, some rather directly happen to me. But I have been writing about them. And I’ve had a few people who suddenly said they were strongly disagreeing with me, and wondered why I started writing about such gloomy, harsh, critical things, seemingly so suddenly. It seemed to them that the person who fit into their world wasn’t there anymore. Like I’d changed.
So I went back through my blog. And you know what I found? I have been using this blog like that the whole time, but I was writing about topics those people agreed with me on or otherwise did not care much about. I have written about things like why I oppose veganism, why I don’t support PETA-style animal rights, why I dislike children, why I feel frustration towards my aggressively suburban family, about social problems within the broader homesteading community, about farming myths, about “factory” style farming, about “chemicals” in our foods, about large agribusiness, about my Mom’s cancer battle and death, I have been writing about challenges, negative impacts on my life, and being critical of others for years… Just not very often my fellow farmers (especially small farmers and homesteaders) because frankly, their lives didn’t impact my life dramatically outside of my career. More recently, that’s changed, and I think it’s left some people concerned. The truth is, I might not be the farmer they thought I was.
Now one could be forgiven for thinking that I live within the sphere of a stereotypical viewpoint that people see as being a farmer. For starters, words have a lot of power and I identify myself as a “farmer”. When we think of a “farmer” there’s an image, portrayed to us be media akin to the Paul Harvey speech, “so God made a Farmer”. When asked to think “What is a farmer” we probably think of straw or cowboy hats, overalls, an older white man on a tractor or in a pickup truck. When we think of a community around that person, it focuses on a house wife, family, children playing near the small farmhouse, church on Sundays, horseback riding. When we think deeper about that person we may make certain assumptions about them, like how they are probably conservatives because they are religious or they support gun ownership (which can be essential in the countryside). Our cenus data supports this. Over 70% of farm owner/operators in the US are white Christian men.
(Citations; 1, 2, 3, 4)
You could also be forgiven because I support a large number of conservative policies. I’m passionate about the constitution, from free speech to freedom of/from religion, to gun rights and all the rest of the “no, you can’t house your armies in my homes nor can you enter without a warrant”, etc sort of stuff. I’m really big on states rights. I want to see a smaller, more effective government with more local jurisdiction and less red tape. I want to see businesses, and especially small farmers, supported in the USA. I want to see MUCH less foreign interference coming from the USA. Dear LORD do I want to see the FDA and USDA dissolved and replaced with a better organization(s)! (They can even keep their old names, just make them work for the people again instead of companies, please!) And I want to see people pay more attention to the huge swaths of (primarily farm) land that are crumbling apart all across the midwest due to hairbrained policies that don’t support them very well. I support hunting and farming animals, and self-sustainability and fishing, hard (dirty) work, self-responsibility, and all those other great things. I love the land, the air, the peace and quiet, the beautiful moments of nature. In an ideal world, you’re right, I would probably vote conservative.
So yes, to some of you, I probably seem to fit inside of what’s being labeled as political bubbles these days. On the surface of this blog, I may strike you as tucked nicely into the typical farmer box (albeit somewhat on the liberal end). So when I blog about how repealing the ACA would ruin my life, how I think climate change is a big problem, or how I struggle with the broad conglomerate called “Christianity” it might seem to come out of nowhere. But I’m a complete person. I have a diverse set of experiences. This isn’t an ideal world, I can’t make the choices I’d like to because if I choose to support some policies I like, I must also choose to support programs that threaten my life. Life is messy. It makes us unique and imperfect and we are all part of that. So here’s some reasons why I probably don’t fit into that box and might make posts that you feel are critical of your own actions.
And hey, just as a heads up; Trigger warning! Liberal ideas from an otherwise conservative source ahead! 😛
- Climate change, pollution, evolution and science in general are real.
USDA hardiness zones are consistently moving north, early warming ruins fruit crops, effects bee behavior, alternates droughts and floods, and the top 12 warmest years on record have been in the last 20 years. There’s no reasonable way to deny that the climate is changing (are the thermometers at your local weather station rigged or something?) and of COURSE that effects farming. Of course understanding genetics and evolution effects animal/plant breeding. And of COURSE oil spills, disrupted ecology and wildlife cycles, smog, water contamination, algae blooms, wild bee deaths, superweeds and other things that spawn from human intervention effect agriculture on ALL levels. Science matters, it’s desperately important for agriculture, and sticking our heads in the sand about it is SUCH a bad idea! These things punish poor farmers far more than rich city dwellers. Don’t shit where you eat. Farmers need to pay attention to it more than anyone else! Of COURSE it’s gonna get covered in this blog!
- I’m one of the %14 woman farm owner/operators in the US.
Unfortunately, being a lady isn’t always easy. Even if we move past the fact that I’ve experienced (sometimes violent) sexism on the streets semi regularly since I was 7, or all the other common lady-problems I face… There’s not very many women farmers, and they can be looked down upon. It’s very common for other people to dismiss my opinion on farming because I am female. In fact, I have had people commit complete 180’s on me, where they thought I was a great resource and a good farmer, right up until they found out I was female. Suddenly, everything I said was second guessed and overall tones went from enthusiastic to just generally rude. Some people have openly stated (only after discovering that I am female) that things I said would have to be confirmed by their male farming buddies before they could believe me. Some people have even told me that I shouldn’t be a farmer because I am a woman. Sexism effects me, it effects my farming and therefore belongs in this blog.
- I’m polyamorous and bisexual
Yeah, I have spoken about my partner, Greg, occasionally. He owns and runs a small business in a local neighborhood that he built himself. But I also have a second partner, Dan, who I have just recently started talking about. They’re friends, they know about eachother, and it’s all consensual. I’ve also dated girls before, would again, and have been consistently attracted to them. Not to mention my large number of LQBTQ+ friends. Why does this matter? Because the majority of farmers in the US are conservatives and would like to pass laws against my relationships, my friends, my family, or even me. Some refuse to do business with me. Some people have threatened violence against me. I’m never really comfortable sharing any details of my family life (which is supposed to be valued highly by farmers) with other farmers because of this stigma, and it’s hard to form good, trusting, relationships because of it. Not to even mention the violence and hate I sometimes face just for existing, nor national policies that effect me negatively like marriage equality, adoption rights, inheritance, etc. That’s not OK. It effects my life, it effects my farming, and therefore it belongs in this blog.
- I’m Pagan
I know. It shouldn’t be relevant. Neither should who I sleep with, or my gender. But, again, it DOES. There’s a HUGE swath of the population who think I’m so toxic because of it, that I shouldn’t exist. I don’t ask other people to be pagan, I do not try to get laws passed encouraging paganism, I don’t expect a teacher to tell kids that the reason they can write is because of Odin, I don’t expect special treatment on my holidays beyond what I make for myself, and I don’t expect people to like me for it. But the fact that people DO expect those things for THEIR religion (IE, Christianity in the US) is frustrating, and I can’t say I have ever faced it from a non-Christian. Now, we don’t take statistics on religion here in the US, but in Canada (who are generally considered less conservative/religious than us) only 17% of the farming population said they were non-religious, and of the ones that were religious, only 10% made up ALL non-christian religions including Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, ALL forms of Paganism, etc. I can’t imagine that number is any more diverse here in the US. The fact is, the majority of the people I interact with in this lifestyle are Christian. Which would be TOTALLY FINE, if they didn’t passionately believe some aspect of Exodus 22:18 (Thou shall not suffer a witch/sorceress to live, etc. etc.), or worse, try to get people to pass those personal beliefs into law. So when another farmer asks me why I’m not at church on Sunday, I have to weigh my answer carefully. This is a normal interaction in my job, it belongs on this blog.
- Politics and policies effect me, republican ones usually negatively
This should also be obvious, but my life is effected by national and local policy. When Lord Dampnut proposes a 20% tax on goods coming from Mexico, it effects farmers nation wide as Mexico is the biggest buyer of food from the USA. When climate change policies get cut and oil/coal/etc gets promoted, farmers suffer. When my healthcare gets cut, I suffer. When policies are put into place that restrict marriage, my religion, my gender, my friends, my job, my existence… I suffer from it. So when you vote for those thing, you are literally voting against whether or not I should exist. You might as well be showing up at my door and threatening me with a weapon and telling me I should stay in my house and never come out, because that’s about the effect it’s going to have on me. How could I possibly be accepting of people who do that or treat it as if it doesn’t effect me?
I could understand wanting that if I was doing something similarly threatening to conservatives, but I’m NOT. Nobody is. I would like to see Christian churches still exist, farmers have solid employment, straight people getting married, men on equal footing (not lesser). I want you to have all of the faith, family, farming, and heck, even guns that you want. I want you to wave the American flag and shoot bottle rockets into the air while screaming “FREEDOM” from the back of your pickup truck while bald eagles pass overhead, heck, NOBODY wants to stop that! (Except for maybe your deeply embarrassed children.) We just want that to not come at the expense of our own joy and freedom. And yes, that, too, effects every aspect of my life, including my job.
- Racism and other bigotry Exists
This may strike as a little bit tokenism, since it’s not about my farm much, but… I grew up in a neighborhood that’s 42% black, and those people matter to me. I think it’s important to emphasize that I’m not black, I’m Cis, I’m not a PoC, I can’t represent other minority struggles. But other people definitely have it even worse than me. I know what sort of struggles I go through every day and how infrequently my genuine suffering and needs are addressed by people who don’t experience them, so when I hear that there are even more problems for someone else, I can believe it with ease. For that matter, I’ve seen it often enough with my own eyes, especially now that I’m not a kid in that neighborhood anymore. I don’t think we can correct MY problems without fixing ALL the problems for EVERY group that experiences systemic disenfranchisement. So when I talk about fixing my problems, making life more just and equal for me, I also want to pay heed to other people around me who need those changes even more than I do. Their problems are real, and I’m going to support them in seeking changes.
- I have depression, and a body, so I might not post.
What do farmers, war vets and LGBT people have in common? Abnormally high suicide rates! Average suicide rates in the US is 0.14%, but among vets it’s around 0.3%, 0.7% among LGB youth, 0.86% among farmers and a whopping 40% among transgender individuals. Lowering those numbers matters to me, because I know what it’s like to suffer from depression. Some people also asked why I post so infrequently sometimes, so here’s why; I’ve had depression and some health problems since I was a kid. This leads me to flake out on things that are not required for my well being when my well being is compromised. That includes this blog.
I think that about sums it up.
Are you one of the people who would like to see me post more often about happier subjects? Great! That’s a lot easier to do when my mental and physical health is secure. You can even fix it. Not just for me, but for millions of people across the country. There’s three simple things you can do.
The first is to push for a single-payer medicare-for-all health system that supports good mental health treatment. The same mental healthcare that will go towards lowering suicide rates among trans youths will lower suicide rates among vets and farmers. The healthcare system that will provide free birth control to poor families who can’t afford more children (including farmers) will provide birth control to people like me who take it for severe cycles and uterine fibroids. And the same system that paid for my mother’s cancer treatment may pay for your pastor’s daughter’s cancer treatment someday. Taking care of the sick and hungry is our moral obligation, double especially if you’re Christian. Support it. It helps everyone.
Second, embrace diversity. Make sure that a bisexual pagan girl like me can converse with you without being scared of your reaction to my mere existence. This has an added benefit; farm country is currently associated as hubs of bigotry and extremism. We can bridge the huge gap between city folks thinking that way about farmers if, well, they can interact with farmers that don’t act poorly toward people who are different than them. Until the idea that some people are seen as less human by the typical white Christian male farmer is gone, city people won’t care one whit about farmers needs. The divide deepens, and everyone is unhappy. Just let people be people without trashing them for it. They really don’t hate you for your faith, sexual orientation, gender, race, etc. So don’t make their lives worse for theirs.
Third, don’t just say it, do it. Call your congress critters and your representatives on both the state and national levels. Tell them you want them to support policies like national healthcare, laws that protect minorities, and our first amendment constitutional right to freedom of and FROM religion. Your calls matter. Your votes matter. Even if you vote for a republican because (like me) you support their fiscal/constitutional policies, you should put pressure on them to also support minority rights. They’re not mutually exclusive! We should get the option of having both sides win!
If my physical and mental being is secured, as well as my right to exist in this country I’m going to be able to be much more upbeat, much more capable of focusing on farming, much more productive, and much happier. And the best part? A lot of other people will be too, along with conservative farmers, war vets, and all sorts of minorities.
Be compassionate. Care about people. They’re a lot more likely to care about you.
And maybe you’ll get to see happier blog posts in your future.
And now for a snarky disclaimer.
I’ve rewritten this post several times now to be as unbiased as I can, but at a certain point I have to acknowledge to absurdity and unreasonable reality of my world. I’ve tried to make it non inflammatory thus far, but if I’ve failed and you’re upset, I’m sorry. (Genuinely.) This is my reality and it’s not pretty. But less genuinely; In the meantime, here’s some great advice I hear from conservatives a lot. I’m sure it’ll help you as much as it helps the rest of the people it’s told to;
“Calm down! Sorry, but I support free speech, not political correctness that panders your milk-white identity politics. But hey, I’m sorry that a blog post on the internet triggers you so much. So why don’t you run back to your safe space? Aw, does that upset you? It’s just a joke, snowflake. 😉 Yeesh.”