Thursday, November 19, 2009

papa don't farm: part 1

I've been wanting to do a biased low-budget documentary, or, failing that, a series of biased articles, on the continuing decline of the American farmer. Farming is dear to my heart because 1) there's nothing like it for building character, and 2) I've never had to do it myself. Living where I do I have a number of sources whom I can pump for information, among them my dad, who owns a farm equipment dealership. But the thing is? I'm sort of scared of my dad. Not that he's going to hit me or anything, just that he'll wonder--possibly aloud--why I'm asking him about the cost of computerizing tractors, rather than, say, mowing my lawn (Because it's winter, dad! What? Why am I not cleaning my house, then? Uh . . . ). So I'm going to have to be sneaky about how I interview him. My first attempt was this morning. It went a little something like this:

I went into his office saying that we were driving past and Pinga wanted to come see him (it's true, she did). We discussed Pinga's holey cheek, then I smoothly segued into my real reason for visiting.

Me: "So, how goes the biz?"
Dad: "Oh, it's moving along."
Me: "Sometime I need to ask you about why it is that farm equipment costs so much more than it used to, and nobody can start farming now because he'd be dead before he paid off his land and equipment."
Dad (facial expression): "Sigh. I don't have time for this."
Dad (aloud): "Mm-hmm."
Me: " . . . and you've got people like [redacted] who are farming, what, 800 acres? And he's not getting rich."
Dad: "Oh, he does all right. But he got a lot of help in the beginning from his dad."
Dad (facial expression): "I would really like to get back to work."
Me: "Well, I guess I'll let you get back to work."

Tricksy, right? I bet he didn't even notice. He's going to be a tough nut to crack. So my hypothesis for this project is that even with the renewed interest in supporting small, local growers, farmers are still not making ends meet. I hope I find out that I'm wrong. Stay tuned for more of my skillacious investigative journalism.


highdeekay said...

If you need more sources I have a BIL whose dad farms in Grace and a brother who works for John Deere (in San Diego of all places!). I bet I could be a tricky Vicky and get some info out of them for ya!

I anxiously await said biased offerings.

Layne said...

I bet your brother-in-law knows my grandma! What's his name?

Jill said...

You could always try the, "see..I have this friend..." approach.

Matt and Emily said...

Dad's are tricky things to figure out how to talk to. My Dad hates talking on the phone and isn't very good face to face either. But, I have learned that he is very responsive on email, chatting, or through texting. Maybe you should rethink your approach of asking the questions- maybe bring a pie and chat while you eat or twist John's arm into asking him- maybe he'll be all proud that his son-in-law wants to be a farmer :).