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Talking it over: National Agriculture Week, March 18-22

The third week in March is traditionally recognized as National Agriculture Week. Of all the weeks designated throughout the year, this is one of my favorites and very rightly deserving of recognition.

Perhaps I feel this way because I believe in giving credit where credit is due and the hard working men and women involved in agriculture deserve credit, recognition and thanks.

Through their efforts, we are able to live comfortably, have food to eat and a beautiful world to live in. The farms in this area not only raise crops that put food on our tables and items for daily use, but also make the countryside pleasing to drive through, especially in spring, summer and fall.

I grew up on a farm and continue to live in the country. I consider myself a bit of a farmer because I love to have a garden and work in flower beds. I also enjoy spending time outdoors mowing, trimming and just plain sprucing up the yard. There is something so fulfilling about planting, nurturing and then harvesting, whether it is a field of corn or a marigold in a flower bed.

 Taking a tiny seed, placing it in rich soil, watering, waiting and watching it grow into a sturdy plant is just incredible. Then seeing it bear fruit or produce a beautiful flower is beyond compare. You almost feel guilty picking off the end product because you know what it took to get it there.

There have been a lot of changes in agriculture since my years of living on the farm. Even the sound of machinery today is so different and much more quiet then they were years ago. The size of the tractors, combines and attachments are staggering and the mechanics of operation require education before even turning the key.

I love to see how agriculture progresses and changes. Most of the changes over the years have improved the product, productivity and the effect on our environment.

One thing I have missed seeing on farms today are the animals. Fewer and fewer farms are raising animals for consumption. If they do have cows or pigs, it is usually in huge numbers and in large confinement barns. Gone are the days of a few cows in one barn, pigs in another, horses in the pasture, sheep, chickens, geese and ducks wandering the yard. It is pretty hard to go to a farm today and see a large variety of farm animals.

The farm animals made life interesting for me as a child. They provided daily chores, regular care and in some cases, such as the geese, had to be avoided as they may just turn on you for no reason. I still carry a few scars from chicken and goose pecks and have a great deal of respect for cows, especially bulls.

Even without barns full of animals, farms today can be interesting places to visit and take children. It can be a valuable lesson in learning where our food comes from and what it takes to get it to our table. It can also teach us all the importance of agriculture and the people who work in this industry.