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Sunday, November 03 2013


I just finished reading Joel Salatin's book, "Folks, This Ain't Normal" and I feel compelled to climb to the rooftops and shout across the land, "READ THIS BOOK!"

Salatin describes himself as an environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer. The New York Times calls him, the "high priest of the pasture."  I first saw him in the movie, "Food Inc." but to truly apprectiate Joel Salatin, read his books.

The first chapter of this one had me hooked. It's called "Children, Chores, Humilty, and Health."

He talks about sitting in the airports watching young people:

"When I sit in airports and watch these testosterone-exuding boys with their shriveled shoulders and E.T.-looking fingers passing the time on their laptops, I realize that this is normal for them. This isn't happening because they are sitting in an airport trying to while away the time.  This is actually how many, if not most, of their hours are spent -  recreation, entertainment, and playing around."

Salatin then spends the rest of the chapter explaining the chores young people used to do. He explains these things in such detail that not only do I feel like I'm reading a Foxfire book, but I also realize how far our culture has strayed.

At the risk of sounding hypocritical, because I'm sitting here typing this on a computer instead of going outside to address the calves that are screaming at me through the window, our nation is becoming a culture of watchers and not doers. Most of us would be completely helpless without our current state of technology, our electricity, our computers, our smart phones, and our video games. (don't get me started on video games!) We outsource everything in our lives now. This not only promotes lazy bodies, but lazy minds as well.

Instead of advancing us as a culture, it is enslaving us, and we happily march forward toward the sterile, flashing colored lights, and away from the dirt, blood, or anything resembling physical labor.

I bounce between these worlds - the glitz and glow of a metropolitan city where your every physical need can be met with little effort, is balanced on the other side by a ranch so remote that cell phone service is spotty and we only get one television station. (and that was for one weekend. Since then, no signal whatsoever.)

At one house we have cable television with hundreds of channels. We probably watch only four of those. At the other house, we must listen to the radio. This radio becomes our "way back" machine. We enjoy old classic radio programs and I marvel at how these shows are so much more clever than the stuff churned out on television today. They also allow us to multi-task, not zone out like a vegetable in front of a flashing box. Now we can argue that it's Sirius Satellite Radio and that's certainly technology, but the point is that I'm not against technology. Heck, I don't want to live in a age without antibiotics either, I simply believe that better, stronger, faster, isn't always best for us. To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park, "Just because we can, doesn't mean we should."

For all our modern conveniences, most of us have no more free time than our ancestors did. In fact, we spend most of our lives working to afford those conveniences. We gamble that we'll be healthy enough, or even alive, to enjoy our retirement. Our culture is in a losing race to earn enough money to retire so that we can enjoy actually living.

Rather than downsizing our lifestyles, we 'upsize' our expectations of technology. It has become our teacher, our babysitter, and ultimately, our master.


With each generation, we are losing the skills necessary for survival without our fancy techonolgy and our ability to get cheap goods from overseas. This bothers me. As a child, I can remember my grandmother making beautiful quilts, yet I can barely sew buttons back on. My mother is a mean seamstress though. When I wanted curtains for my cabin, I toyed with the idea of buying the burlap and sewing them myself, but then realized, DUH! I don't sew! I don't know how. Fortunately, Mom came to the rescue and gave me some curtains SHE HAD MADE!  One day I'll have her show me how to sew my own curtains. (Maybe I should order the burlap now!) My mother used to preserve food from the garden in Mason jars. She canned all sorts of things. I never learn this skill and now I deeply regret it. Fortunately, my mother is still alive to teach me these things, but how many other skills are dying out with each generation?

How much knowledge is being lost because it is cheaper, easier, or faster, to get it somewhere else?

Perhaps we should do something about that.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  13 Comments  |  Email
I always tell my daughter that versatility is the way to go and then the last part of the Heinlein quote...'Specialization is for insects'... Sometimes she gets it...sometimes it seems like she doesn't get it.
Posted by Eric on 11/03/2013 - 09:32 PM
Exactly Eric! She needs a well-rounded education and she needs the Home Ec classes that I looked down on as a teenager. After all, I had plans to go to college, I didn't think I needed those skills. What a laugh! I wish I had the Home Ec skills my mother and grandmother had. I also wish I had taken Machine Shop and Auto Mechanics!
Posted by Forensicfarmgirl on 11/04/2013 - 09:35 AM
Hi, This is a theme I have harped on for years. Even if kids have chores they are not really related to doing things that keep us alive. ie: if you didn't feed the chickens you didn't have eggs or chickens to eat yourself. Try asking the average 20 year old if they can change the oil in their car. Most can't even find the dip-stick. Jan
Posted by Jan on 11/04/2013 - 11:15 AM
Make sure you get yr mum's knowledge. Or father before it's too late.. There is a lot to learn.
Posted by Liz (Vict. Aust on 11/04/2013 - 06:01 PM
Honey- most folks now don't even know what a Foxfire book is......
Posted by paulainnevada on 11/05/2013 - 08:59 AM
Oh my! Paula you are right! Well, there's gonna be a rise in google hits on Foxfire.
Posted by farmfreshforensics. on 11/05/2013 - 10:05 AM
I know what Foxfire books are! And I'm thrilled to find at least two more people who do too. My bookcase holds pretty much the entire collection, including a couple that aren't a part of of the Foxfire collection. I will have to check out the book you are shouting from the rooftops about!
Posted by Virginia on 11/06/2013 - 05:46 PM
It is easy to blame the kids for their lack of doing chores, sitting behind games etc however is it not that we have failed them? Is it not our duty as a parent to teach them these skills. I do not think it is the fault of the younger generation, it is the fault of our parenting skills. We create our next generation.
Posted by Louise Liebenberg on 11/07/2013 - 10:45 AM
Very interesting point. I know that when I was a teenager, I had absolutely no desire to learn how to sew, and can, and cook from scratch. Stupid me thought I would never need those skills.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 11/07/2013 - 12:22 PM
'My' wife likes football and would rather not cook. I would rather not watch football and I like to cook. Our daughter finds it amusing.
Posted by Eric on 11/07/2013 - 07:43 PM
My hubby would rather cook too. He is a great cook - thus my weight gain!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 11/08/2013 - 02:50 PM
I also never bothered to learn to cook and sew as a young girl, my mother was a great seamstress and a top chef. However, what she did teach me was that if I could read, I could learn anything. So, I read and learnt to cook and can and do those things. When raising our kids I have taught our daughter of 17 to rope, to ride a horse to build fences, our son can load the washing, fold washing, cook and clean. I like to think I have taught them some independance. However there are times when I feel I still need to teach them so much, particularly as our girl is leaving for college next year.. she still needs to learn so much and time, (it feels)is running out.. help! Love your blogs..
Posted by Louise Liebenberg on 11/09/2013 - 03:11 PM
EXACTLY! Louise you hit the nail on the head! Teach your children independence! Teach them how to figure out what they need, and how to get it! They will never have all the skills they need, the trick is not knowing it all, the trick is finding out where to learn it when you need it.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 11/09/2013 - 04:35 PM

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