Today at lunch Billy and I were sitting together in the kitchen and he was reading through a farming newspaper a friend of ours brought home from a trip to Ireland this summer. He looked up suddenly and said, “They are years ahead of us. The newspaper is reporting not only how much grass grew over a period of time but the density of growth!”
Of course there is less ground in Ireland and the ground they do have is very expensive. They can’t afford to be wasteful. I wonder too if there might be some good behind the practice of having people get a license before they farm, as is done in some places.
Think of how many people who have “real” jobs and raise some animals, on the side, or plant a couple of acres of vegetables for a roadside stand. In this country the number of hobby farms that produce little or no income is on the rise, just as the number of farms declines. I have no problem with people growing their own food, but it does make it harder when we have to compete with those who have little or no concern with making a profit. Our friend raises beef which is very good, it sells well, and he has never made a cent. It is a good year if he breaks even. Meanwhile, our butcher shakes his head at the animals he sees coming through his place every week. He tells us what he hears all the time; people will bring a pig to him and say, “Guess how much I spent raising this pig?” And he already knows the answer. “Absolutely nothing,” they brag. The pigs are fed day-old bread and free doughnuts and guess what the meat tastes like? It is mushy and there is so much fat he sometimes has them come in to see that the pork chops are the size of half dollars with three or more inches of fat surrounding it, before he cuts them up so they won’t think he is stealing from them. Feeding animals well seems easy enough and it’s only part of what goes into raising exceptional meat. The animals photographed in the Irish Farm Journal were the likes of which we don’t often see in this country. They were impressive.