Friday, May 13, 2011

Work It!

I’m not what you would call a girly girl. Well sure. I like dressing up, and wearing makeup and smelling like flowers. I’m pretty much a natural beauty product addict, and have quite the stash of potions and lotions to fix what ails me, cosmetically speaking. However, I’m not prissy or fussy. I’m not afraid of boogers or bugs. I have shoveled post holes, plunged toilets, castrated pigs ,had my arm shoulder deep in the business end of a heifer, and have been covered in mud, blood and poo more times than I care to remember.

See? I can be girly!
Because I grew up in semi-isolation, it was required that we learn as many “vocational” skills as possible. There were no vets on speed dial to take care of the animals, no lawn and maintenance company to come put in a fence. If it was broken, we fixed it. And if we couldn’t figure it out, we called our neighbors for advice and we learned how to fix it or build it. We worked.

I recently came across the senate testimony of one, Mike Rowe, who hosts a show on the Discovery Channel called Dirty Jobs (thanks Heather!) Back in good ‘ol days when we had cable, we had every episode of his show recorded on the DVR. He testified in front of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about the growing gap in skilled labor. In an economy where unemployment is skyrocketing, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. So why is there still a long line at the unemployment office?

Mike Row wrangling chickens....a dirty job!
Well, for one thing, an honest, working, dirty job is treated as more of a consolation prize for those who couldn’t “hack it” in a four year institution. Apparently, the choice to shun a degree and become an HVAC repair man or a mechanic automatically labels you as lazy, ill educated and unmotivated. Mr. Rowe stated that “we've elevated the importance of higher education to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled as alternative.” Amen to that. All these "shovel ready" jobs for a society that doesn't encourage people to pick up a shovel…

Once I moved away from the rural area in which I grew up, much of the dirty, shovel bearing work went right out the window. The most digging I do is in the garden, and the only livestock to contend with are the hens and my children, neither of which need castrating. But in the absence of those skill building opportunities, I created new ones. I learned how to sew and how to preserve food. I learned about natural medicine and went so far as to enroll myself in a class so that much of the everyday doctoring can be done at home. I am interested in making my family as self sufficient as we can possibly be. I don’t want to have to rely on, or, like much of today’s population, blame other people when things go wrong. My family’s willingness to work, no matter what kind of work that may be, may save us in the end.

I am completely baffled at our country’s aversion to work and at their defiance toward an invisible authoritative figure that they think owes them the world. Furthermore, I am appalled that our country thinks of tradesmen as “lower” on the societal totem pole. How dare you condemn them when they are the ones bailing you out, solving your daily crisis with a flick of a wrench or a slice of knife. When did we become so disconnected? People are not interested in the invisible souls who grow their food, or make their clothes, or fix the electricity when it’s knocked out by a storm. We have become “less interested in how things get made, and more interested in how things get bought.”As more and more tradesmen retire, the skilled labor gap will widen. What a rude awakening it will be to those who have demanded the world, but have done nothing in return. Do something. Learn something.




  1. AMEN & AMEN! It is so refreshing to me to "see" a young person such as yourself "getting it." It gives me some hope that our wonderful country might yet be able to pull out of this downhill spiral when I read posts like yours! There is such a disdain for "blue collar" workers and "just housewives" that it makes me sick. Stick to your guns, my young friend, and raise your children with this belief system. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for your kind words Karin! And thanks again for your bread recipe. I bought buttermilk and plan to try it this weekend :)

  3. This was a wonderful post. We're in the group working to help feed the world -- poultry farmers -- 39 years. I have been made to feel inferior by women sometimes because I don't like the social life but had rather be a country wife.