cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
As on most mornings, I listened to Jay Weber this morning discussing the Labor Department’s effort to restrict farm laborers to those sixteen and older. I married a ‘farm’ girl who worked side-by-side with her older brother and dad and mom and neighbors for years as a child under the age of sixteen. That was a way of life for everyone who was born and raised on a dairy farm in western Wisconsin. There was always work to be done, and more than could usually be done by the dad and mom alone although they were at it from before sunrise to long after sunset.
The number of kids raised in that environment that ended up with social problems or criminal issues was extremely low. Those kids learned the ethics that flow from hard physical work, and they knew that what they did with their lives was going to be up to them to make happen. There were very few ‘couch potatoes’ in farm families. There were some accidents but those were few and far between considering the numbers of kids under sixteen who were working daily on their families’ farms and resulted in a crumpled fender or two..
The sons and daughters of farmers were driving tractors and pick-up trucks on the farm from the age at which they were tall enough to reach the pedals. This wasn’t the exception, but the rule. No one thought a thing about it, and there were no incidents that I can recall where one of those kids was involved in a serious injury-causing accident. I’m sure there were some, but I don’t recall any.
Since I was in love with a farm girl, I was ‘treated’ to an afternoon in the fields during ‘haying’ season. I was never as dog-tired in my life up to that point as I was when I finished that day. That one day taught me a lot about that thing we used to call ‘stick-to-it-iveness’. You made a commitment and you lived up to that commitment. You fought through the temptations to quit and go lay under a shade tree. You were aware of what it took to make your way through life, and you learned that most of that was going to be up to you to make happen. I have thought about that afternoon over the years, and am forced to laugh at the 'city kid' in the country.
Those farm families were tired but happy families. They were close families for the most part, although there was a renegade or two in every community. Today’s young people can be found in corn fields ‘de-tasseling’ the stalks during the growing season. That is the way a lot of kids earn money for school expenses. It doesn’t hurt anyone and it does teach some valuable life lessons. The idea that Uncle Sam needs to ‘protect’ those kids from themselves and evil farmer owners strikes me as ridiculous, and simply another in a long series of over-reaching regulation.