2 acre farm: Picked By Children?

2 acre farm

The experiences, trials, and lives on a small farm in rural Illinois.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Picked By Children?

When I was a kid it was pretty common practice for children to work on farms in the summer time. I spent a few summers picking and weeding the modest fields of a small market farmer that was located down the road from my family’s home. My brother spent several summers’ detasseling corn and even raised the ranks to ‘supervisor’ after a few seasons. He was still young enough that he rode his bike about three miles to work every morning, probably around 5 a.m. A good percentage of the kids I knew also did similar jobs: weeding, picking, detasseling, operating sprayers, tractors, and combines. One thing you must understand though, is that when I say “when I was a kid” I am referring to the 1990’s, the very near past; after all I am only twenty seven years old. For those who are not familiar with agriculture, this is the case because child labor laws exclude agriculture. It was never much of a problem in the past but now that agriculture has turned big business a very serious problem is popping up.

All of the kids, including my brother and me, were between the ages of twelve and fifteen. Once you got a car and could drive yourself into town, you would go out and get a job that didn’t involve itching and sweating. As children we worked for these farmers voluntarily, to earn some extra spending money or to save up for something special. The video accompaning this post tells a very different tale from the one I've shared.

Any thoughts?
We'd like to hear your input. You can either comment on our blog or visit us on facebook and tell us what you think under the discussion tab labeled "Picked by Children".



Blogger Anne said...

I also worked as a kid, but in the stables (exercising horses, grooming, guiding trail rides, mucking stalls, cleaning tack, etc. Started at 12).

I see the problem more being the parents of these kids. As a parent, no matter what, her education is the priority. The parents' choices ultimately can determine much of a kid's childhood.

May 13, 2010 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous EVDimick said...

Many of my friends in the 1970s worked at small local farms where I grew up in CT. (I delivered papers.) My parents both worked the tobacco fields of CT in the summers of the 1950s to earn money to go to college.

May 14, 2010 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Marianne at Black Walnut Woolens said...

My Father was a migrant fruit picker, along with his family, up until he graduated high school. They started in CA and picked different crops as they came into season up to Oregon, then back to CA. He talks of the hard work, but never a negative word about his lot in life.

My husband helped his family, picking strawberries and working the garden and in the hay fields, from the time he was about 5 years old.

As with anything, laws were enacted in an attempt to prevent abuse. But those same laws prevent the opportunity for children to learn a strong work ethic as my Father and husband both did.

New to your blog and am enjoying it.
Marianne in Western Oregon

June 7, 2010 at 11:28 AM  

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