There is a long tradition of neighborliness amongst farmers. In many respects this is something we look back on in nostalgic terms as if it is something which our parents or grandparents enjoyed in the good ol’days, but none of us really know about today. Today this phrase “good neighbor” means being friendly and helping out every once in a while, doing something like watching a dog or picking up somebody’s mail.
In farm country this had a different, more significant meaning. A good neighbor was somebody who had just as many things to do as you, but dropped all of them to lend a hand. And I don’t mean a small job, I’m talking about 8 -10 hours of labor to put up hundreds of bales of hay in blazing heat to beat a rain or helping to pull a calf at some crazy hour of the night in the cold of winter. That kind of neighborliness was done because all of us depended on it. Those kinds of assitance paid off in the end because dedicating a day to your neighbor would get repaid when you were in need yourself. The community of growers was richer, not in a strictly montery was, but because the strong bonds built through work side-by-side.
That kind of work exchange which was almost necessary for survival amongst the small diversified dairy farms which covered Otter Tail and Becker Counties is just as voluntary a ‘nice thing to do’ as amonst any towndweller. After all, most farms today are as automated as most manufacturing plants. Who needs their neighbor?
In spite of all this, we are blessed with farm neighbors who still carry on the best sense of the term. This weekend I have a neighbor who volunteered to lay cement block for a couple days to repair a barn wall destroyed in a rainstorm last year. This is time worth hundreds of dollars and all he wants for payment is a nice dinner and help moving block. I’ve had neighbors borrow us equipment, mow ditch embankments, herd our animals when escaped, birth lambs, plow entire fields who have asked for nothing in return. I owe them all and would do whatever I could whenever they need it. I think that’s the feeling we should all have to build a real neighborhood.
In the Box:
- Sugar Snap Peas (please don’t shell these…just eat them)
- Head of Romaine Lettuce
- Bunch of Westlander Kale
- Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
- A few Baby Bok Choy
- Scallions aka Green Onions