Evidently the Obama Dept of Labor is about to protect our children – and abolish the appallingly dangerous family farm – by preventing children under the age of 18 from doing farm and ranch chores. Even on their own farms.
Some of you know I grew-up spending part of my summers at a working ranch / summer camp in the California Sierra Nevada mountains.
I was slopping hogs at 10 years old. This involved putting all the un-eaten food from 100 people into a few 5-gal buckets three times a day, placing those buckets on the ends of a long pole over your shoulders, and walking with a bud (with the same setup) a few hundred yards from the Ranch House to the pig pen. This was a heavy load for a 10-yr-old. Then we stepped into the pen, whacked the pigs with a stick to push them away, and poured the slop into their trough – while trying NOT to get pushed down into the mud & run-over by a half-dozen hungry pigs. This, of course, involved working as an under-18-yr-old in the yard with animals. No-can-do under Hilda Solis and the Obama Admin.
Over the next five years (I went there until I was 15) I graduated to the cows (while still feeding the pigs every chance I got). The counselors (over 18, thank goodness!!) got a couple of cows into their milking stalls to be hand-milked. Another Camper and I, both rising early to get onto the (very popular) “Chore Crew” for the week (chores were assigned for a week; camp went for 2-week sessions) would pour a #10 can of grain into the trough in front of each cow to give her something to do while being milked. While the counselor was milking her we’d cart & fork a few bales of alfalfa to the milk calves (future milk cows) and the weaner calves (calves being weaned… future table beef) and feed them. And practice roping the calves so we’d know how to use a rope when we got older.This meant working in the lot with stock, another no-no under Hilda Solis and Obama. We also fed chickens and collected eggs.
I also learned to saddle horses & ride (working in the stockyard), rope calves (ditto), separate calves from cows for branding (same), and harness and hitch a horse to a cart and drive the cart. No. No. No. And no.
For two summers in college I worked at this ranch camp, the second summer staying-on after camp closed around Labor Day, working from dark-to-dark until just before Thanksgiving driving a dozer helping finish the years-under-construction dam and making a lake – and doing all the ranch chores… As a counselor I taught rock climbing, but my ranch chores remained… I milked the cows, butchered the beeves (and pigs, and chickens), fixed fences, rode horses, roped calves, branded calves, drove cattle from one field to another, separated calves from cows for branding, etc. Thanks goodness I was over 18 by then!
These were – easily – among the best times I had growing-up. In fact, I continued going up to “The Ranch” until I was 50 – every Fall for the Roundup — riding, roping, branding cows, and butchering the hogs – and bringing home fresh pork. The boss (the son of the man who started it and ran it when I was a kid) and I then had a falling-out that had been a long time coming, but which also unfortunately meant my kids didn’t have this fun when they were growing, and I no longer get to ride through the Sierras with a good horse under me and rope a running calf. Too bad. Among the best times in my life.)
But – the point is – I was expected to do chores as a kid on this ranch (at home, too, but Obama hasn’t outlawed that – yet.)
My folks paid – for them – serious coin for me to go to this camp – and I had to work my butt off there sometimes. We also built an earth-fill dam, raked weeds (stinging nettles among them), collected firewood cut and split by counselors and carried to the truck by us kids (ranch chores!!), swept the drive and the Rose Arbor daily, saddled and unsadlled our own horses, had inspection at our (outdoor) bunks to keep clean and worked in the (2-acre) kitchen garden weeding, picking and snapping beans, cutting lettuce and squash, picking corn for dinner, etc. We grew and raised much of what we ate. It was a WORKING ranch AND a summer camp back then.
But we also slept outside under the stars, swam in a spring-fed pool (for which I helped make and lay the decking tiles as a kid), learned to ride and saddle horses, ate great fresh food prepared by an excellent kitchen staff, hiked & rode in the Sierras, played outdoor games, sang each evening as the boss played his guitar (he’s a great guitar player, too), did talent shows, and had GREAT, FUN, TIRING days – every day for weeks at a time.
But now that we have the tyrant party in charge, evidently if you are under 18 you are not allowed to work with stock, or in a stockyard anymore.
No slopping the hogs… who will do that? No feeding the chickens or collecting eggs… who will do that? No milking cows – well, actually the boss, ardent anti-capitalist & seriously liberal Democrat that he is, stopped milking cows years ago, deciding that the cost of alfalfa over the winter was more than what he could BUY milk for, keeping more of his profit… and taking most of the “ranch” out of the “ranch camp.” Feeding cows, milking cows, moving calves, etc., already had succumbed to a choice of profit over the entire IDEA of a working ranch camp… and he BUYS milk in-town now (a 90-min drive each way — think of the carbon footprint.. OMG!!!) … but I digress. Heck, he may even be buying his BEEF for all I know by now…
Anyway, IF this camp is still in business with the Obama-extended recession (private summer camp nowadays is a very upper-middle-class activity pretty much reliant on the 1% and disposable income, most of which Obama has rid the nation of for anyone not making several hundred thousand dollars a year – MINIMUM – remember, this is California we’re discussing, and this camp is a few thousands bucks per session (was a few hundred back in the day…), and non-recovery, via Obama’s implementation of the same Keynesian policies that prolonged the Great Depression by several years (all European nations that ignored Keynes were out of the Depression YEARS before America exited.. shhh.. don’t tell Krugman or Bernanke!), then these new Obama regulations will drive this ranch camp OUT of business. (It is not Congress legislating, but the Obama Administration regulating the Family Farm out of existence with these policies… with no kids learning hard work, who will farm in the future? No one. Read the linked article.)
But, hey, you get the government for which you vote, and these owners ALWAYS vote Dem, so if Obama has put them out of business with his economic policies… or is about to put them out of business with his you-can’t-work-with-stock-if-you’re-under-18 policies (which means ALL the work will have to be done by paid adults rather than much by paying kids – kinda reverses the profit-loss picture for the camp), then that’s what they voted for.
Too bad – I had the best times of my life up there for 40 years… And with the experiences there I was able to work a Dude Ranch in the Rockies one summer as an adult (on vacation from IBM), saddling & unsaddling tens of horses twice a day and riding good horses through the Wind River Mountains for weeks at a time. Best weeks I ever spent (this is where the ending of my book China Rising came from, by the way; you should read it!) … and all these great times in the Sierras and Rockies, because of the Ranch Camp and the way it was run when I was a kid…
But… children working on farm & ranch chores, and being held responsible for getting them done well and on-time, develops personal responsibility. Can’t have children developing personal responsibility, I guess – they’d wind-up voting for Republicans, those mean capitalist bastards.