Detailed description of farm history; MeFi relatives get in on the act. May 3, 2007 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Callout for awesomeness: Want to know about farming history? Well, ontic's dad will tell you about farming history.
posted by LobsterMitten to MetaFilter-Related at 12:05 PM (58 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Ontic, tell your dad I think he's great.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:08 PM on May 3, 2007


Very cool. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 12:11 PM on May 3, 2007


Plus, humor for the internet weenies:
This gathered hay was then farked with a "hay fark" onto flatbed wagons called "hay-framed" wagons. One person stood on the ground farking the hay onto the wagon while a second person's job was to stack the hay on the wagon in a manner in which the largest amount could be transported to the front of the barn with the hay loft.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:11 PM on May 3, 2007


MetaFilter: I need to know about old-timey cows.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:16 PM on May 3, 2007


Awesome!
posted by pombe at 12:19 PM on May 3, 2007


Attn. ontic's dad: GYOFB.

Seriously, it would be a neat way for him to do that family history project he mentions, as well as a decent repository for research materials, anecdotes, etc.
The F stands for Farming, natch... what did you think it meant?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:31 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Those are fantastic. I can almost smell the farked hay from here.

The question asker seems not to fav or pick a best answer or return to comment or answer anyone else's questions, so she may never acknowledge those great answers (or even see them).

Ontic's dad needs to join us.
posted by iconomy at 12:33 PM on May 3, 2007


Sidebar that jammie. Great stuff.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:35 PM on May 3, 2007


A those were the good old days....

*gets that creepy look in his eye
posted by uddersucker at 12:37 PM on May 3, 2007


That is so cool. Thanks ontic, and ontic's dad!
posted by rtha at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2007


Yeah, that's really great. I had looked at that thread -- don't know if I would have remembered to check back, so thanks for the callout, too.
posted by veggieboy at 12:47 PM on May 3, 2007


That's great. Good callout!
posted by OmieWise at 12:50 PM on May 3, 2007


man, metafilter is awesome.
posted by shmegegge at 12:58 PM on May 3, 2007


That is awesome.
posted by petsounds at 12:59 PM on May 3, 2007


Ooh, thanks for reminding me to check back on that thread. Fascinating!

Ontic, your dad rocks.
posted by AV at 1:25 PM on May 3, 2007


[blushing in proxy] What's really cool is that I'm pretty sure there's a third installment still coming. (He hasn't even done milking yet.) He is a great and knowledgable man, in addition to being an unstoppable force of nature. I'm sure reading this will make his day. Thanks everyone.
posted by ontic at 1:25 PM on May 3, 2007


Is there room at the back of this chorus of appreciation? I want in.
posted by Abiezer at 1:29 PM on May 3, 2007


Neat shit!
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:32 PM on May 3, 2007


The question asker seems not to fav or pick a best answer or return to comment or answer anyone else's questions, so she may never acknowledge those great answers (or even see them).

It doesn't really matter. The information is now out there and googlable. Which is why I second the idea of him putting this out there on a blog - even if readership is low it becomes an invaluable resource for future researchers/historians. Also the information is intrinsically interesting. I read it carefully and am looking forward to the next installment. I wish more older people would write or get transcribed some of their experiences from the early 20th century before the information is lost to time.
posted by vacapinta at 1:35 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Neat manure, cortex. Didn't you learn anything here?
posted by chiababe at 1:37 PM on May 3, 2007


And for the record, I didn't know he would be sending me such amazing stuff when I asked about other relations on the site. Sending him the email was just my impetus for wondering.
posted by ontic at 1:42 PM on May 3, 2007


Awesome! Shared experiences is what I love most about metafilter.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:42 PM on May 3, 2007


Good stuff. Thank you ontic and ontic's dad for sharing, and thanks admins for putting it in the sidebar so it can be seen.

*eagerly awaits Episode III *
posted by lekvar at 1:45 PM on May 3, 2007


Thanks, LobsterMitten, great callout.

And thanks ontic for asking your dad. I love it!
posted by bru at 1:46 PM on May 3, 2007


Thank you ontic's dad!.
posted by bobobox at 1:47 PM on May 3, 2007


That is fabulous. My grandfather was a farmer in Holland from the 1910s through the 1950s, and what Ontic's father describes is very close to what I remember visiting, as a boy, in the 1950s. At that point he was still in the MacDonald's farm mode -- not just dairy but hogs, chickens, sheep, geese, orchard and vegetables. Still farking manure by hand. And horse-power for everything, he never got a tractor or drove a car in his life. I am fortunate to have experienced all that during my summer vacations.
posted by beagle at 1:55 PM on May 3, 2007


You know, family farmers still work incredibly hard and long hours. At least they did 30 years ago when I was young growing up in a farming community. All the farmer's kids I knew got up hours before school started and worked, and then worked when they got home. A portion of them dropped out of high school to work the farm. I suppose from ontic's dad's emails that farming is much less labor intensive than it was in the 30s, but it's still a lot more labor intensive than perhaps many of we city dwellers think. Or maybe not. Maybe we are all familiar with the idea of the hard working farmer.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:24 PM on May 3, 2007


I thought it was a great answer, and then I saw that there was a whole lot more. Really good stuff.
posted by teleskiving at 3:01 PM on May 3, 2007


I worked on a dairy farm in the summers to put myself through undergrad. There were 115 milkers but a lot else going on: silage, hay, irrigation, mechanical, a beanfield, pumps, etc. I did chores and irrigation, work 5 to 9 a.m, stop for breakfast, work 11.00 through 7.00, milkings at 4.30 and 4.00, rinse, repeat. Good times, really. And we had the PTO and electricity and a manure spreader and all that good stuff. The work involved even 50 years earlier of which Ontic Sr. writes was exponentially greater.

And there is something beautiful about the short generation between Ontic Sr. farming hard, and Ontic Jr being a Philosophy Professor, and both of them discussing it on the internet.
posted by Rumple at 4:06 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is the kind of call out that I can whole heartedly get behind. Very cool stuff.

My great grandmother was born in 1900 and lived to be 99 and 363 days old, she grew up in a rural area, and I was always fascinated in hearing her stories of the coming of electricity and the first time she saw a car. It was an amazing resource to talk to someone who was an adult at the beginning of the first world war.

So consider this me seconding the idea of having your dad get his own blog, the guy obviously likes to write (and does it well, I might add), I'll bet he could put some really neat stories out there.
posted by quin at 4:33 PM on May 3, 2007


More? Why is he writing in ask meta and not writing the ol' timey cow bible?
posted by absalom at 4:41 PM on May 3, 2007


Ontic, if your dad would be interested in a free Wordpress blog for life to post more of this awesomeness for the world to read, please let me know.

I note that AllAboutCows.com is sadly taken, but CowFilter.com is free :-)
posted by Bluecoat93 at 4:48 PM on May 3, 2007


Really great stuff. Thanks!
posted by dan g. at 4:49 PM on May 3, 2007


He just sent me the third installment so I posted it into the thread. I think it's the best part. I also think he's getting a kick out of being a minor internet celebrity here. Unfortunately, I think it would be a bit of a stretch to teach him how to blog, but he is very generous in telling his stories, and here some of them made it to the internet.

We do still have relatives (my father had several brothers and sisters) milking in Clinton County, IL. Some have enough hired hands to get away from the farm, but I remember some of my dearest relatives didn't get out to our house (about an hour and a half away) for many years because they were locked into the milking cycle. I've been out to the farms and have seen how hard they work. It's probably easier now, but I don't think anyone would say it's easy.

As for Rumple's comment, believe it or not he can bring the philosophy too. He grew up on the farm, but ended up becoming a Roman Catholic Priest for many years (with three masters degrees in agriculture, economics, and theology). That lasted until, teaching at a high school, he met a young English and drama teaching nun, my mother. They fell in love, left their respective orders (though not the church), married, and I came along a few years later.

Not a bad story, eh?
posted by ontic at 4:58 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not a bad story, eh?

It's got miniseries written all over it! [NOT SARCASTIC]
posted by dersins at 5:03 PM on May 3, 2007


ontic, that is a GREAT story. Now I want to call out this callout, but that's too meta.
posted by veggieboy at 5:42 PM on May 3, 2007


Not a bad story, eh?

*picks up jaw from off of floor*
posted by chinston at 5:46 PM on May 3, 2007


Wow, who knew I'd be so fascinated by dairy farming? But now I REALLY can't wait to hear the story of how your Dad and Mom fell in love.

(Is that getting to personal?)
posted by lannanh at 6:16 PM on May 3, 2007


Great stuff. Ask is such a cool resource.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:18 PM on May 3, 2007


Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Things change so quickly now that it's important to remember how much different they were only a few decades ago.
posted by First Post at 6:19 PM on May 3, 2007


Awesome. And I think it also kinda makes the point about how much knowledge and wisdom is not (in this case "until now") on the Internet.

A rich ex-Microsoftie in Seattle, Scott Oki, has ben using tech to record the experiences of Japanese Americans who were interned during WWII.

Makes me think that a wonderful thing would be some site aimed at collecting soon to vanish knowledge from our older and possibly offline members of our human collective. I don't know where I'm going with that but Ontic's dad has got me thinking . . .
posted by donovan at 6:20 PM on May 3, 2007


I bet a lot of the folks who enjoyed ontic's dad's essays would enjoy the Foxfire books. The Foxfire books attempt to document pre-electricity life in southern Appalachia. I've read (parts of) two of the books, and strongly recommend them.

The sections I read on horse trading, well digging, and natural refrigeration will stay with me a long time. I'd give anything to own the complete set.
posted by popechunk at 6:44 PM on May 3, 2007


My father read this thread and said he was choked up about all the positive comments. You all made his day. In particular he was overwhelmed that so many people (many young) would be interested in learning about the old ways of doing things.

Just a brief clarification about the vocabulary. Apparently, "fark" at some points should actually be "fork". I thought it might have been a technical term, so I didn't edit it, but apparently it was just quick typing coupled with a bit of a southern Illinois twang. I doubt it's related to the infamous website by the same name. I told him that anyone who types such an amazing amount of material that quickly is going to be excused for such things.

As for my mother and father falling for one another -- I don't know if there's much more to say (or they'd want me to say). It was as grand and as mundane as two people falling in love ever is. They just happened to be in those two terribly interesting roles when it happened. And of course I'm eternally grateful that love of the type can triumph over other forms of dedication :-)
posted by ontic at 7:35 PM on May 3, 2007


These are wonderful. Thank you, Ontics Jr. and Sr.
posted by sculpin at 7:47 PM on May 3, 2007


Well your dad could do the typing and you could mastermind the blog ontic. That sure doesn't require much labour. Thanks to Mr ontic for taking all that time. Fascinating stuff.
posted by peacay at 8:00 PM on May 3, 2007


Unfortunately, I think it would be a bit of a stretch to teach him how to blog, but he is very generous in telling his stories, and here some of them made it to the internet.

The solution then, sir, is to present it in podcast form, which requires little more than a microphone and a means of recording/transferring audio. And maybe some thematically-appropriate background music. This Prarie Farming American Life, ya dig?

Many thanks, ontic and ontic Sr.!
posted by Danelope at 10:20 PM on May 3, 2007


I just printed the whole thread out for my Dad...great stuff. He grew up on a small farm in PA, so we had lots to talk about.

- Member, Ontic's Dad Fan Club
posted by Liosliath at 10:25 PM on May 3, 2007


An outstanding trilogy, vividly and beautifully rendered. Many thanks to both of you.
posted by Ljubljana at 12:28 AM on May 4, 2007


This is fabulous stuff. Thanks! Every time I read something like this I realize just how soft my life really is, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.
posted by maxwelton at 12:34 AM on May 4, 2007


Really great stuff. If only more askme questions were answered so well. Fair play Ontic's dad.
posted by Elmore at 7:01 AM on May 4, 2007


Wonderful. I'll be sure to pull my dad on board the next time the black market comes up.
posted by hermitosis at 7:19 AM on May 4, 2007


Please tell your dad not to worry about things like typos - especially since we all seem to love the idea of "hay farks." I suspect/hope that the term will somehow come to be so ingrained in MeFi vocabulary that it will have to be added to the FAQ so that n00bs can figure out what it means.
posted by rtha at 9:18 AM on May 4, 2007


Somebody get that man a blog!

"...website friends..." ha!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:27 AM on May 4, 2007


Seriously, this was one of the best things I've ever read at Metafilter. I am reminded of the work of Studs Terkel. I wonder if there is a site or resource out there that collects and maintains this sort of, well, non-oral oral history?

If not, there darn well should be.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:56 PM on May 4, 2007


MetaFilter: More manure for the mucker to muck

Many thanks to ontic, jr. and sr. for participating in that thread.

Also, blogging (once it's set up) is no more difficult than email. It would also be a good/easy place where family could go to read the stories.
posted by deborah at 2:41 PM on May 4, 2007


Danelope writes "The solution then, sir, is to present it in podcast form, which requires little more than a microphone and a means of recording/transferring audio. And maybe some thematically-appropriate background music. This Prarie Farming American Life, ya dig?"

Pod casts aren't really search able unless someone transcribes them. Can that be done automagically now?
posted by Mitheral at 3:28 PM on May 4, 2007


The OP made a liar out me by going back to the thread and acknowledging the great answers. Good.
posted by iconomy at 4:58 PM on May 4, 2007


Wow. This gave me so much insight into what my family used to do on their farm before they came up from southern Ohio to the northeast, near Cleveland. I grew up helping my great-grandma cook and can vegetables, I've helped make lye soap... but this was really, really great to read. Let me join the wants-a-podcast chorus!

I truly wish I'd recorded my great-grandma's amazing (and hilarious) stories while she was still here. But the all-time best grandma put-down ever? My father is making fun of my semi-shaved punkish haircut in high school. Grandma chimes in: "I like it. I had mine like that once." Dad: "YOU HAD SCARLET FEVER, FOR CRISSAKE!"
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:42 AM on May 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


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