Monday, February 23, 2009

Now I've Heard It All...

So, I was watching the local evening news tonight when a story caught my attention. Keep in mind that I live probably the largest farming area in the state. The headline was about a new Farm Odor Law that is being put into place on Feb. 27th. Farmers will now have to have a management plan for controlling farm odor. Are you kidding me??? The problem, they said, is that more residential areas are creeping closer and closer to the rural farming areas and the smell is becoming a problem.

Hello... am I the only one who thinks that this is ridiculous. So, you mean to tell me that when a person decides to build or buy a house within seeing distance to a farm, they don't think that those pretty cows they see won't come with some extra smells??? Seriously??? Is it the farmers fault that manure smells?? You knew this when you bought the house! But, no, we wouldn't want to offend any one, would we?

Here is what the new regulations entail for the farmers:
-Farmer must submit a plan to the state from a certified odor-management specialist.
-State Conservation Commission will review and decide whether to approve each plan.
-Projects likely to affect farm's neighbors must include strategies for managing odor, such as cleaning regimen or ventilation system.
-Regulations take effect Feb. 27
-Only affect new or expanding CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations) buildings

Luckily, it only affects new buildings on farms.

A spokesman for the state farm bureau, who backs this plan and helped to write it, estimated that a management plan will cost about $1200 for the farmer, not including any installation of fans or ventalation systems. $1200 just to write up a plan...a piece of paper stating how you will control the wind that carries the smells that occur naturally in nature.

Dennis Wolff, the secretary of agriculture said that "the new rules are especially important with increasing sprawl in farm communities" and that "These new regulations are geared to help minimize conflict between those not accustomed to farm odors and the agricultural producers working to meet our increasing world food needs." No wonder there is a disconnect between farm and table. No one wants to accept the things that go along with food production.

Part of what makes country life great, in my opinion, is being able to smell the country. Whenever we would go for a drive on a Sunday and we would smell manure in the air, my dad would always take a deep breath and say something about the good smell of that Clarion County air. Whenever I smell the country, I take a deep breath...and will continue to do so, hoping that I'll actually be able to smell it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Yesterday, I went to the local public library in an effort to get some paperwork done. I needed to be away from the distractions of my place and my office. After searching for an empty table where I could spread out my binders and paperwork, I ended up settling on one in the children's section. It was well lit and there were maybe one or two people there. So, I settled down to work.

The children's section in the library is the entire second floor. There is a castle tower, a kitchen play area, computers with kids games, and, of course, books. As I was working, there were two girls, I'm assuming they were sisters, who were wandering about, looking at books and trying out the games. The one girl found her way to the kitchen play area and started to make dinner. She set about the chores and was interrupted by a phone call on the yellow plastic phone. She answered it cheerfully, as if it was no inconvenience to be interrupted in the middle of cooking. Apparently it was one of her best friends on the phone because she seemed delighted to be talking to the person on the other end of the plastic phone conversation. After the conversation had ended, she continued to fix dinner with no water boiling over the pan, no burnt food, no flopped new recipes.

As I was watching and listening to the scene play out before me, I couldn't help but think about how much I'd like to go back to those days. When you pretended to be an adult, nothing bad ever happened at your job, dinner always turned out perfectly, and the bill collectors never called or sent letters. Everything was always perfect and pleasant in your pretend adult life. I remember pretending to be various things when I was growing up. I was a tomboy, so these aren't your traditional roles that I would find myself in. I remember pretending that I ran a lumber company/hardware store and took orders for so many 2x4's and certain countertops. I remember pretending that I was a mechanic and customers would come in to have a tune-up. I remember pretending that I was a farmer who was bailing a bumper crop of hay. I remember pretending that I was a successful baseball player who was playing in a game that was tied, in the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs, and I hit a home run to win the game.

Whatever the role was that I found myself in, nothing bad ever happened. No one ever got mad that the lumber order didn't arrive on time. No one was upset that they had to have a complete overhaul of their engine. The crops never failed because of a drought. My team always won the world series and never had a player busted because of steroid use.

I watched this little girl playing house and thought about how nice it would be to be happy every time the phone rang or enjoy doing daily house chores. I thought about how our entire childhood is preparing us for adulthood. We role play various things, trying them out, figuring them out, seeing how it works. Then, one day, we realize that we aren't role playing any more. We are adults and suddenly bad things happen. People are mad when we don't meet deadlines. People expect things from us and if we don't meet those expectations, there are consequences. The drain clogs and water runs all over the floor. The cookies burn to a crisp and you throw them in the trash.

Then I realized that children have to block out the bad things in life. Adults have to shelter the kids from some of the every day crap that goes on. Otherwise, who would want to grow up and be an adult.