.

.

Monday, November 26, 2012

FARMER KING GROWING AN INDEPENDENT FARM

John King standing with some of his family. 
Left to right: Jack, John (grandson) and  farmer John King

Recently, I wrote a post about the original homestead that John King bought in his early twenties. Now in his seventies, Mr King has spent his adult life as an independent farmer. He can point out his achievements of growing a farm by the buildings that stand on his farm. Prior to his moving onto the farm these buildings were  not there. 

Corn crib

John King is a friendly man as are other members of his family that I met on the day when I talked with him about his farm. Jack, his cousin, was at the farm picking up some tobacco sticks from John for a project he was working on just down the road. John Sr, had been a tobacco farmer until the government had a buyout for Kentucky farmers. John, his grandson, had just come home from some classes at the college he was attending. 

Second large barn that John King built on his farm

Mr King runs a hands-on farm. Every building except for the two homestead buildings has been built by him. Now he didn't go to the lumber company and purchase his building supplies. Rather he went to the woods on his property and felled trees for each building he was to build over the fifty or so years he has lived on his farm. He would take his felled trees to small sawmills located near his farm where the mill hands would cut the wood into the dimensions that Mr King wanted. Then he would haul it back to his farm via tractor with wagon or horse and wagon. Then construction would begin.

First large barn that John King built on his farm

Over time John built three good sized barns, a storage garage, a small utility shed, a corn crib and a tractor shed. All from the trees on his property. All his buildings have been kept in excellent shape. 

Utility shed

Growing a farm is quite an accomplishment. I took several photos to show what one person can do when he has the will and the way to make things work. 

Tractor shed

Oh, and part of his life on the farm changed when he stopped raising tobacco. He took an off farm job for a while telling me that it was almost impossible to make enough money as a small independent farmer anymore unless one worked both on the farm and an outside job too.

The Kings, according to grandson John, grow all of their food for year-round consumption as well as raising cattle for beef. 

Small farms, according to 2009 statistics, have grown by 4%.  Mostly attributable to demand for local and organic food. Most of this growth is found in small farms under 50 acres. 



25 comments:

  1. Great story! Thanks for sharing this... These ole barn pics are amazing. Love the "first large barn" photo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. turquoisemoon -- I think farmers invented the "do it yourself", movement. thanks for stopping in this morning -- barbara

      Delete
  2. An extraordinary story, especially that he used his own trees to build all those out-buildings that obviously stand firm and true. This kind of do-it-yourself independence is wonderful to read about.

    I grew up on a small family farm where my father build the house and a barn (but with purchased lumber.) I'm reminded that for a couple of years my mother took an outside job and the my father began driving a school bus for extra income, as did his brother who farmed in the next county.

    It's interesting that the number of small farms is now increasing. I'm sure the difficulties are not decreasing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. June -- Your farm background gives support to the reality of a farm. I find it amazing that your father built your house and barn. Your father and uncle had to eventually get jobs off the farm while still taking care of the farm. Yet it seems that farmers who work off the farm do not want to give up their farms and move to towns. Farming seems to run in their blood. Farm work never stops for holidays or vacations as I remember my relatives saying when I was young.

      In the statistics I mentioned you could have as small as an acre and be counted as a farm. I think specialization for local markets are what accounts for this. One can grow a lot of tomatoes on an acre to sell at a farmers market. thanks for the comment -- barbara

      Delete
  3. Lovely. Yes, our farmers are doing the same sort of thing and having to diversify in order to survive - selling direct to the local people. producing wonderful cheeses, that sort of thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carole Anne -- Oh -- like the sound of "wonderful cheeses." We have farmer's markets here during the growing season. Very few permanent all year round. In many cases in order to survive the wife goes out to work and the husband runs the farm. -- thanks -- barbara

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Simple Thyme Prims -- The King farm is a good example of how agricultural ways are changing. What I found fascinating is that local and organic food is an important ingredient in today's farming. thanks -- barbara

      Delete
  5. I love these pictures. The first one has so much to tell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought these men looked just swell in the photo. I'm sure you could see their goodness. I call these types of people "salt of the earth." thanks for stopping by -- barbara

      Delete
  6. We eat much more local food than we used to; there is far more available than when we first moved to the Big Island of Hawaii 16 years ago. Ag land is almost all reclaimed sugar plantation land. Farmers have found ingenious ways to provide good food for consumers and themselves here and can make a little money go a long way on improvements by using what's at hand, just as the Kings have done.
    Tropical agriculture is tricky, but luckily the University of Hawaii at Hilo provides advice and even plants and seeds.
    We think of ourselves as semi-farmers with a prolific breadfruit tree, avocado tree and a lot of banana plants. Amazing how many calories we can harvest off a 1/3 acre lot. And we are always getting citrus and other fruits from friends and neighbors. We could grow more food, too, but we are a little old and lazy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HATTIE -- I have never visited Hawaii, only heard how lovely it is from my kids who have visited. Your description of having breadfruit, avocado and bananas accessible right in your own yard is amazing. The closest I have come to your island is through the words of James Michener.

      I imagine you have fantastic local markets. Especially as U of H provides gardening advice.

      An interesting post would be why your sugar plantations were reclaimed -- for us that are out of touch with the politics of Hawaii.

      -- barbara

      Delete
  7. Just imagine the work that went into building John King's first barn. Neat barn. Neat picture. Neat story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nature Weaver -- I know that there are many real stories wrapped up in all farms. I wrote a book about one many years ago. Growing a Farm is probably only a slice of the activities that one could find on his farm. thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My sister and hubby grew all their veggies and dairy farm also.

    Today if common folk had to defend for self on land growing . I think they could not do it.

    Also kids learn on computers and never learn trades of Yesterdays. Like farming, labour work. If computers go down. They have nothing to fall back on really as a trade.

    I bet they could not even build a hen house. All math is computer knowledge

    not head knowledge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sparkle -- Farming is a tough physical world but as the stats I linked in my post show farming has grown 4%. Today it seems that younger folks seem to be choosing this way of life. thanks barbara

      Delete
  10. Kings of the hill, I gues you could say. It's a rugged life to do it right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birdman -- You seem to have a way with words -- like your designation of "King of the Hill." thanks -- barbara

      Delete
  11. This was a wonderful post...I lived near some small farmers in Maine...this brought back alot of memories...I love all those barns...It is nice that the small farms are coming back... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda -- What I found very interesting about John King is that the first barn he built had a ridge beam 25 feet in length -- one he felled and installed Barns store more than animals, equipment and food -- they hold many personal stories. thanks -- barbara

      Delete
  12. A very interesting post. Nice to see that the number of farms is increasing, but it will always be difficult in modern societies to run small farms without an additional income.
    This brings forth memories of my own childhood when I accompanied my uncle when he brought trees that he had felled himself to a local sawmill to have them cut just like this.
    Nowadays his son still keeps sheep (he is a retired teacher), but there is not enough money in it without additional income. So it becomes a kind of hobby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RuneE -- Yes, the truth of the matter is that small farms are just that. Too small to make enough money to support a family. If one has a home business aside from their farm they could make it or, like we know, an off-the-farm job. So we are witnesses to the transition from the old ways of farming, like your uncle's, to his son's way of keeping a farm. thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

      Delete
  13. Never has black and white looked so colorful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fun to turn photos into black and white -- this post just seemed a natural for it -- thanks for stopping by -- barbara

      Delete