Matt King is a singer, a songwriter and pretty damn cool in general. I am incredibly disappointed that I didn’t find his music until after our Nashville trip because I can’t wait to catch him live. After seeing his “Cursing the Ohio” video on TV one day, I found his page on facebook and was drawn into a conversation in which he was actually participating. When the #NonDairyCarrie Project started shaping up I sent him a tweet asking if he would like to join in and he was great enough to oblige. Matt grew up in North Carolina, his father was an auctioneer but they did not farm. He now resides in Nashville and is working on his next album. I encourage you to check out his music. He has a unique sound and does a perfect job of blending storytelling and music.
Don’t complain about the farmer with your mouth full
I have to preface this by saying that I feel deeply underqualified to speak on the topic farming but Carrie was kind enough to ask so here goes a very disjointed ramble…
I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina on the heels of the fifties movement and the rebellion of the pseudo enlightened sixties. As a child of those mountains and what was considered by some as a depressed part of the country, I remember at an early age thinking that farming was an incredible “high art.”
My father had copies of Foxfire around the house, hides tanning in the basement and a fresh kill in the backyard that he skinned with the precision of a mortician.
Living off the land AND contributing to the local agricultural commerce was the norm in those days.
It wasn’t hip, cool or trendy, it simply was..
The kids that always seemed to be so much older than the rest of us were the ones who grew up farming. They had already put in a day’s work often before they even got to school.
I remember the smell of woodsmoke and bacon coming off of their dark denim jackets and vibram soled work boots packed with mud.
There was a maturity about them that made me feel like I was totally inept where responsibility was concerned.
As I got older, as a young musician, I was always straddling the fence between holding court with those kids and my liberal minded musician peers.
I was comfortable in both worlds, but noticed there was always a thin wall between them and some of the other folks who were being groomed to become the khaki and cardigan types of the future.
Move forward to the year 2011, and I think I see it a little more clearly than I did then.
The Yuppies have gone from Porches to smart cars..bloated bellies to yoga studios and eco-friendly homes.
It’s become hip to be environmentally aware, donate money to ASPCA and hold court over a glass of cabernet about the perils of our dear mother earth.
All this while screaming about their lactose intolerant gut, their gluten intolerance and the feed lots that are criminally ran by those dirty farmers.
Yes, I have a resentment if-you-will towards that sector.
Mainly because it has the same undertone of politics where the fundamental extremes dominate while the common majority is muffled and muttering, “Hey, we’re right here..don’t act like we aren’t.”
Being mindful and responsible stewards of crops and animals has always been the backbone of true farmers. They are the majority that are awake and working long before the first latte gets swazzled up at Starbucks and long after the last toast over a conversation concerning 401-k’s and cultural cool goes to bed.
I remember my dad telling me a story about a farm equipment auction he had years ago:
A young couple was bidding on a heap of an old busted tractor. They had a young son with them and the boy cheered when his dad won the tractor. His wife planted a kiss on him as if he’d won the lottery and as they stood up to walk back to the cashier, dad said that her dress was so worn that you could almost see through it and his overalls were held together by handstictching and patches.
He put the microphone down, stepped off the podium and cried.
That young farming family had a true sense of joy and contentment that he said far outweighed anything he’d ever known.
This isn’t really making any sense other-than I think that true farmers, (not these frankenstein money machine agri-businesses)have held on to what society was aeons ago…..hunters, gatherers and contributors to the well being of communities.
They are the people that inspire me to try and be as responsible with my trade as they are theirs.
So the next time someone strikes up a conversation with me over a plate of quinoa while complaining about the gas guzzling pickup the neighbor drives, I think I’ll tell ’em to perhaps not talk with their mouth full….
Love his words or hate them, take your pick. Before you complain too much about this or that, be sure you’re willing to take the job on yourself. If not consider it your job to be well informed before you complain. This applies to food, politics and just about everything in life. Thank you again Matt for writing this.
Wow. Love the song… then read the words that followed. Eloquent. Made me proud that I was raised a farm girl. I’ll be sharing this post. Thanks for making my day!
Glad you liked it and thank you for sharing!
I’m stealing “Don’t talk with your mouth full.” That is a very to the point argument that is bound to put some thought into people’s minds.
This was awesome. Loved it!
Isn’t it great! Would love for you to share!
I’ll be sharing on Facebook, and on my blog tomorrow as well. This is amazing…and right on the money.
Thank you! I agree. Matt hit the nail on the head here.
I’ll be telling people not to talk with your mouth full all the time now! Great Post! Will be sharing often!
Great post. In this country and much of the Western world we have the luxury of be able to complain about things like where our food comes from and multi-trillion dollar deficits. Many people around the world are just trying to survive from one day to the next Unfortunately a lot of those people are held down by poverty, poor infrastructure, and militant regimes in power.
We’re lucky enough to have the freedom to say what we like in this country and eat what we like. Choice is good, but remember there are those out there who would just be happy to eat anything right now.
Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON
Carrie got me listening to some of Matt’s music last night as she finished up this post and I loved it! This post makes me think we REALLY should have met Matt while we were in Nashville and I wonder if he’ll be around when I’m there for NCBA in a couple of months (Feb 1-4).
I have to ask Matt a question…. not sure he’ll answer but I have to ask.
Near the end you point to a differing set of farmers saying “true farmers, (not these frankenstein money machine agri-businesses) have held on to what society was aeons ago…..hunters, gatherers and contributors to the well being of communities.” Can you tell me whether you’ve ever been on a frankstein farm? Cause I haven’t and I work in agribusiness. I’ve found that farmers, regardless of size of the herd they have or acres they farm maintain an incredible independence and continue to look long-term for the generations to come as generations before helped them get a start and will need their grandkids too.
Good point Janice. I hope he can elaborate for us. We farm 2300 acres and I’m sure are seen as “Big Ag” by many. By we I mean myself, Dad, Grandpa, and a hired hand. And of course our families our involved in various ways throughout the year. We have neighbors farming twice and almost three times the acreage we farm, and the only real difference is they have more hired hands. Family owned and operated pretty much describes every farm in the country big or small.
What I was trying to express is that the consumer’s demand is so high that we’ve had to make unusually high demands for food production. Because of that, the processing goes against what nature originally intended and the animals suffer as a result.
The “true” farmers, regardless of the size of the farm try to be mindful and responsible of this but unfortunately there are also those bigger processing joints that aren’t…they seem to be the ones that get all the negative press while the majority like yourself are doing a great job of handling such demands.
Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON
Thanks…. and now the other question…. will you be in Nashville playing the first part of February? 🙂
judi @ farmnwife.com
The only question I have is What is quinoa? Have to google it.
anyway thanks for the great post.
Eddie Borst (@eddieborst)
I think what Matt was referring to is there once was a time when farms were self sufficient. They were a vehicle for a family to make enough to self sustain and sell enough goods to pay the bills and barter with other farmers for other wares they did not produce. There are many mega farms, all you have to do is look around. Here in Nebraska there are feedlots with thousands of head of beef cattle. There are also hog refinements where one family owns like twenty farms spread out dotting the countryside with tens of thousands of hogs. It is farming at this magnitude that keeps people on the edge of their seats. After all who wants to live next door to a cesspool the size of a small lake? Another way of looking at it is to think that maybe this is what keeps the prices stable in the grocery stores. There are rules to follow because after all give someone an inch the next thing you know they want a mile. So is it right or wrong? It all comes with living in a free country.
It always lifts my spirits to see a “non aggie” defending our industry. Wise words from you, Matt, much appreciated. Your music is lovely and refreshing as well!