Students discover value of working on farms

Students+discover+value+of+working+on+farms

Senior Nathan Barringer drives his tractor around his farm in Street, MD. One of Barringer’s jobs is to act as a mechanic helping with the 11 tractors, two bulldozers, and the various other farming equipment.

Hope Kelly, Managing Editor

The sun is beating down on senior Nathan Barringer’s back. It’s 97 degrees outside, and he is stuck in the middle of the field with no shade. As if that is not enough, he has been there since seven in the morning and won’t be finished until 11 o’clock at night.

“You have to stack 200 bales at a time on a wagon, and then do another 200 bales on another wagon, and I mean you’re literally all day stacking hay, so by the end of the day you’re dead,” Barringer said.

While it now takes him less time to bale hay due to increased experience, Barringer still has to work long hours doing strenuous activities such as this on a daily basis. His family owns Deer Park Farms in Street, MD one of the many farms in Harford County.

Barringer’s farm is one of the 704 farms in Harford County. According to nass.usda.gov, in 2007 Harford County had 75,166 acres of farm land. The large amount of farms and land for farming available in Harford County makes farming an important part of the JC community.

The Barringer’s use their land to farm “several fields around Harford County growing hay, apples, peaches, rare tomatoes, and other garden produce.”

Barringer works as an equipment operator driving the vehicles and a salesman selling their bulk commodities. He is also a mechanic who works on their various farm equipment including 11 tractors, two bulldozers, two John Deer gators, two flatbed trucks, and various other orchard, hay, and garden equipment. In addition, he works as a harvest coordinator.

Senior Thomas Reeves lives on a beef farm with about 80 cows only a portion of the 11,454 cattle found in Harford County in 2007according to nass.usda.gov.

“I work on the farm, not as much during school, but I have daily chores that I need to do. It depends what time of year. In the winter I feed hay, in the spring I tag the calves, and in the summer we are making hay,” Reeves said.

While his favorite part is “planting the crops and tagging the calves when they are born,” he doesn’t exactly enjoy splitting wood in the winter to heat his house. Most importantly he believes, “living on a farm has taught me to have a good work ethic.”

Junior Bethany Boniface lives on her family owned and run horse farm, Bonita Farm in Darlington, where they raise and train thoroughbred race horses. In addition, they have a vineyard and make their own wine.

“Racing horses has run in my dad’s side of the family for a while, but it all started with my great, great grandfather. Our original farm is where the Highlands School is located. Once our horse, Deputed Testamony won the Preakness Stakes in 1983, we bought our farm in Darlington,” Boniface said.

Boniface’s horse farm is one of the largest in Harford County, and according to nass.usda.gov, the value of equine inventory in Harford County totaled $42,213,000 in 2010 with 6,200 horses. With this large of a farm, there comes a lot of responsibility.

Boniface enjoys “waking up and looking outside after we have had a snow fall and the entire farm is covered in white” and helping her dad deliver and care for the newborn fouls, but it is not all fun.

“Every now and then I will wake up in the middle of the night to the howling of coyotes which isn’t always fun. Also another thing is, we never have a day off. Even if there is a hurricane or a blizzard or sweltering heat, we always have to go take care of the horses. These are living creatures that need food, water, and care every day of the year,” she said

Junior Casey Reil has worked on a horse farm since the age of 7 taking care of the horses.

“Sometimes it’s hard because I can’t do a lot of the things normal teenager can, but most of the time it is worth it because it’s what I want to do,” Reil said.

Sophomore Alexander English used to live on a farm, but they sold all of their animals.

“Living on a farm was fun to do but it was hard work. My family would take turns feeding he animals each morning. When it was your turn to feed them, you woke up at about 6 am to go give the animals their food and water. Overall, it was great because it gives you a chance to connect with the animals and stay in shape,” he said.

Like English, Barringer appreciates the opportunity his parents gave him by starting their farm.

“[My parents] wanted me to have that kind of experience in life, and I really appreciate them doing it because it’s made me the person I am, and I love it,” Barringer said.

He feels so passionately about it that he said farming is something he intends to passing on to his kids.

“My goal is to build up what we have, what my parents started, into something that will get bigger and bigger…I want to become a farm that is farming some larger acreage and doing some stuff on a larger scale,” he said.

Hope Kelly is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.