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Human Farming

No, not farming humans. And no, I didn't mean to say humane. I am talking about the people actually doing the farming. The humans.
 
 
Why is this interesting to me? Because thus far in our research we’ve focused on growing grass, humane animal husbandry, creamery construction, cheesemaking, distribution, etc. When you plan to run a small farm you need to learn a little bit (and sometimes a lotta bit) of just about everything. What gets lost is yourself. At least I've found that to be the case in today’s literature. That was until I started reading an interesting (and free) out-of-print book that focuses on the humans doing the farming. 
 
Most everyone will share thoughts about how hard the work is, how long the days are, etc. but there’s not a whole lot of detailed information about the actual movements and detailed instructions for performing the work. That's this book's sole focus: farm work. The topics range from “Teaching Farm Work” and “Studying Farm Work” to “How a Man Works”. Included in there are discussions on tools, various skills (hedging, ditching, stone-walling, fencing...) and an overview of accidents and first-aid. All of this I’ve found enormously helpful.
 
For instance, using farm implements in an efficient manner and so as not to injure yourself. Maybe this sounds silly to some people, but I find it interesting. Unless you've apprenticed or worked in a garden with an experienced gardener you don't know how to perform many of the day-to-day farming tasks (at least not efficiently). I’ve never been outside hoeing a garden for multiple hours of the day. I guess I know “how” to use a hoe, but I've only used one for a few minutes at a time. I imagine if I tried to hoe a field for a full day I’d be in a lot more pain than someone who learned how to properly move their body while using the implement.
 
Who knows, maybe I'll never hoe a field for four straight hours, but the takeaway for me is that we should think about and critique each laborious activity and figure out how to make it as efficient and effective as possible. There are ways to labor that will result in pain and injury and other ways that should prevent that outcome. Sure, you'll be sore and tired either way, but that's a good feeling when you've done it right. It's the modern-day version of lifting weights. You can either throw your back out or have strong legs. Depends on how you pick the weight up. 
 

 
Not everything in the book is immediately useful, however. The chapter on rick building and thatching probably won’t get too much use, but it’s still enjoyable to read about how things are done and why they are done in certain ways. Surely the principles could be applied elsewhere, but I guess that remains to be seen. Until then I’ll always know  when I see a poorly built rick.
 

The book I'm referencing is George Henderson's "The Farming Manual", and it can be found for free at the Soil and Health Library. It's the third of Henderson's books, all of which are a joy to read. Be sure to give a small donation so the "library" can keep up the great work of providing out-of-print books to the public. Retaining and disseminating what would otherwise be lost knowledge is important and they do a great job.

I haven’t exactly sought out books to this effect before, but I’m guessing there’s more out there. Recommendations anyone?

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