Many people look at farming from different perspectives. What do that see? Some, and this is partly due to modern culture, see the yokel. The uneducated person that lives on the land and lives from the land. Others with more exposure will talk to you about the hard labor involved. Still others will relate fond memories they had of country life. But what is it really? What we talked about here are just a collections of impressions.
If you’ve ever worked a farm you will know that it is much more.
The Small Business
I use small here, but that has changed through the years. Today farms a very large businesses. But their roots go deeper than what we see in the shallow surface. A hundred years or so ago, farmers were just that a small business. They were business owners that produced their goods, their good just happened to be food.
The management of the farm was a full time job (it still is) that required careful planning. Add on top of that the unreliability of the weather and it wasn’t just a job, but a high-stress job. Back then farmers were actually seen as intelligent, they were literate when others were not and they were often better off than other families.
Today things have changed little for the farmers of America. Things have become easier, but the work is hard and it is stressful.
Now let’s go even further back. The country life that we know now is just a point far in the future.
Farming began in the Neolithic era. It was a period where humans began to fashion tools and take control of their surroundings. This era began around 10,200 BC. It wasn’t until the Bronze Age that specialized work forces, farmers, began to appear in the Sumerian culture between 5,000 and 4,000 BC.
This is also an excellent example of irrigation as the Sumerian made heavy use of it in their agriculture. Another interesting point of their agricultural work force was that they used three person teams when they harvested their crops.
Similar methods of farming, like irrigation were also present in Ancient Egypt. Since they were so dependent on the Nile for the source of their water.
Introduction of Animal Husbandry
The art of caring for and raising animals goes further back than farming as we know it, you might say they were ancient ranchers. But as you can imagine it was easier to herd animals than it was to settle and grow crops in one area when the required tools were missing. The dog was domesticated from the wolf in East Asia more than 15,000 years ago. And this change has played an important role in animal husbandry throughout the ages.
Goats, sheep, and other animals that are now common in our modern farms like pigs (swine) appeared between 8,000 and 7,000 BC in the Middle East and China.
Cowboys, we see them herding the livestock in old movies and we see them working modern ranches on horseback. The horses that they use weren’t domesticated until 6,000 years ago.
The history of farming is an honorable and illustrious one, like the surface of a field of corn is deep and rich with life.