One night last week we had a Breech calving here at the dairy, a Breech birth is when the calf is coming backwards or rear legs first. These calvings are extremely difficult because the last part of the calf to be exposed is the head. A normal birth is front feet and head first presentation because it is naturally somewhat more aerodynamic and the calf can start breathing sooner. This situation has to be dealt with as an emergency and immediate attention and assistance is given so the calf does not suffocate.
As I was finishing the calving it hit me that the situation mimicked life a bit, in that if we are backwards in our thinking sometimes we can’t see the light and will suffocate. Sadly I see this thinking more and more everyday. For example overburdening regulations that actually makes doing the right thing more expensive than neccessary it threatens the sustainability of an industry. Here in the California Central Valley we have regulations from the Central Valley Water Resources Control Board that can actually make doing the right thing downright unsustainable for business survival. As time has gone by and common sense been added to the water environmental regulations they have been much easier to work with. Farmers are all about doing the right thing we just want a common sense economically feasible way to do it.
Backwards thinking can also be seen in knee jerk reaction to one high profile incident just to create that warm fuzzy feeling that something was done, only to end up making the problem many times worse. Another example of thinking backwards is the thought that something should always be done one way because that is how it has always been done, and refusing to see the opportunity for innovation by looking for more options.
By thinking backwards we can almost guarantee ourselves that we will never move forward and stretch our boundaries to see what lies beyond them.
If you are wondering how the calving ended up through teamwork my father and I were able to help a calf be born alive.
I had the privilege of listening to Mike Rowe speak at the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA. Through the time he has spent working on farms and ranches while filming his extremely popular show “Dirty Jobs”, he has come to learn what those of us in agriculture have always known about the integrity of farmers. One of the statements he made was, “If you scrape the brown off of farmers you find the greenest people in the world.” I fully agree with him and have long said farmers are agriculture’s best asset. Another theme at the meeting has been grassroots agvocacy and getting farmer to tell their stories. I firmly believe that as we join conversations with our neighbors in the food aisle farmers can wear our green color proudly.
Many people today have little or no first hand knowledge of today’s many agricultural production methods. Over 98% of the population has taken the opportunity to work off the farm and they are not involved in agriculture, resulting in a loss of a personal connection to the farm and farmers for most. For a good bit of time, those within the farming and ranching circles (myself included) have felt we need to educate the public about our profession and the progression and advancement of agriculture. Through my involvement in social media I have been educated that in reality, the two percent of the population I fall into needs to have start having conversations with others. Through these conversations, we can all learn what expectations each other has and discover shared interests. By reaching out to those across the food aisle to make connections and start conversations, we can find common ground and move forward together.