Along with this large disappearance of the general farm, the diversity
of production has meant a decrease in the self-reliance of the farm.
General farms gave the farmer the freedom
to be self-reliant. Today, many farmers rely on outside resources.
For example, Don and Janet Hawk, turkey
farmers from Howard Township, rely on breeder operations, hatchery associations,
marketers and outside feed to operate their farm. Rather than hatching,
producing feed and marketing on their own, the different operations
are managed separately. This sort of specialization allows the Hawks
to concentrate specifically on raising the birds, allowing them
to raise more birds than if they
were to manage all of the separate operations by themselves. Bill
Brown attributes this specialization to
the farming economy.
"You pretty much get into a specialization field in order to survive
the economy today. The idea of having a half dozen hogs, a couple
hundred chickens, and fifteen or twenty cows just doesn't get with
farming as we know today because it doesn't produce enough income
to make a reasonable living."
Family farmers have also become less reliant on their own land and
livestock to feed their families and more reliant on outside sources.
As Larry Algire, Deputy Master for the Knox County
Grange, expressed, "My dad had five of us on a one-hundred and eighty
acres and we farmed on the shares. We lived, you know. We didn't
go to the grocery store and buy too much canned stuff there- you made
it, grew it all at home and canned it. You had your own meat, your
own vegetables, made your own bread. And nowadays, you wouldn't find
too many people that do
But for the majority of farmers specialization has become a way of life. One hundred head of cattle, fourteen thousand turkeys, two hundred sheep on one farm have become the norm. But as Becky Shinaberry, who lives on a sheep and beef farm in Fredricktown, believes all farming, be it specialized or diversified, continues to teach the same basic ideas. "I think farming teaches a lot of the basics that we as farmers believe in- of working together and taking care of the land that has been given to us."