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Opal The Business Woman Welder by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Parental Portrait for Christmas

 

Opal

The Business Woman

Welder

OPAL M DELONG WARREN_resized

 

Opal

Opal M. DeLong Warren was born in 1920, the year women got the “right to vote” in Missouri. Opal never claimed to be a feminist or a women’s libber, but, she bought land in Missouri in her own name at a time, when a woman usually had to buy land in her father’s name or a husband’s name. She bought land in Texas in her own name, when usually a woman had to purhase land in a father or husband’s name. When it came to “business”, Opal didn’t take risk. Her financial secret was, “she learned to save and manage her money.” During World War II, Opal worked as a welder in the Todd-Houston shipyard.

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren, my mother, began telling me her “business stories” as soon as my young ears could add meaning to sound.

 

Like my father, Samuel, my mother, Opal, had grew up “dirt poor.”

 

Aries Entrepreneur Grandfather

 

Charley Herman DeLong, my mother’s father, had been born an Aries. He apparently was an Aries man, who never succeeded in a business of any kind.

 

He had tried several different business enterprises in his life and never found his niche.

 

Grandpa DeLong didn’t make it as a farmer, but, his eldest son, Richard the Capricorn learned how to plant crops and raise livestock.

 

Grandpa had a short career as a fur trapper. But, he never made any money selling animal pelts, so his old animal traps got inherited by momma.

 

Missouri Moonshine Manufacturer

 

 

Grandpa DeLong even tried his hand at alcohol production. Not a wise decision, in the years, when “Prohibition” was “The Law Of The Land” in the United States.

 

One of momma’s earliest memories is that her father would have her stay in a holler, during the day, while he went to work deeper in the holler at an undisclosed location,

 

Of course, if their was any “commotion” in the woods, young Opal had been told to yell and run frantically through the woods screaming.

 

Grandpa like other “moonshiners” kept his still hidden in the woods. Unfortunately, the brewing process creates smoke that rises into the sky and can be seen for miles away, especially by the sheriff and deputies looking for the still.  THE LITTLE BROWN JUG OF STONE COUNTY MISSOURI_4584_resized

 

Momma told me she did remember Grandpa staying for a time in the courthouse at Galena. As a young girl, she got to “visit” him for awhile.    

This little brown jug belonged to Charley Herman DeLong, who tried his hand at making Missouri “Moonshine.” Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Stone County, Missouri courthouse records reveal “Grandpa DeLong” was a “guest of Stone County and The State Of Missouri.” He had been caught at his still and didn’t have money for bail.

 

Momma always told me she was “a daddy’s girl.” While momma respected and admired her father, she must of known in her heart that his lack of success in a legal business had to be one of the reasons it was difficult for the family to “make ends meet.”

 

Grandpa DeLong’s

Great Business Decision

 

Grandpa DeLong tried throughout his life to find a successful way to make money for his family. He made one great business decision that stood the test of time.

 

His signature is on the yellowing Bank of Reeds Spring “loan” paperwork where he signed for five dollars to “buy” a pear orchard. The Land joined Land already owned by the DeLong Family.

 

In The Great Depression, the purchase of the pear orchard was a “wise” decision. Commercial cattle and hog feed had not been introduced into rural southwest Missouri farms beyond Greene County. Even if farmers knew about the feed, they would not of had the money to buy it. Cattle had to live off acorns and the pasture grasses and perhaps, some hay in the winter.

 

Hogs find food by routing their snouts in the soil and finding what they want to eat like roots, worms and snakes that slither away too slow.

 

The Slop Bucket

 

In the country, before the 1970s, homes didn’t have waste cans and trash cans. The Slop Bucket sit on the floor. Old dishwater, vegetable peelings, fruit rinds and old meat got dumped into the slop bucket.

 

Before nightfall, the slop bucket was taken down on the hill to the hog pen and poured into the trough. Hogs, “The Almighty’s Ultimate Shredding And Recycle Machines” would consume the kitchen garbage.

 

Hogs are “Bulldozers With An Appetite” because they drop their snouts in the soil and bulldoze away at anything that slips between their teeth.

 

Like people, hogs eat pears. While people pick the pears to eat right off the trees. The pears can also be chilled for use in a dessert. Grandma and other women, would save the pears for the “canning” process to save the pears in Mason jars.

 

Ozarks women were skilled at canning the fruit and using different fruits for preserves, jams and jellies.

 

Through the years, the pear orchard provided the DeLong Family, the hogs, and local neighbors with bushel baskets of pears for food. While the DeLong Family, to my knowledge, never charged anyone for picking pears, there are commercial orchards in the United States where the farmers charge people to pick the fruit,

 

The pear orchard is an excellent example of a piece of land that always paid for itself several times over until it was sold with the rest of the land in 2007.

 

Martha

My Virgo Agribusiness Grandmother

 

Grandma DeLong, a Virgo woman had to earn a daily living for the family. She would gather the chicken eggs, milk the cows to churn butter and then walk miles to a local store at Sack And All City, a rural grist mill and country store, or to Reeds Spring to sell them to a larger grocer.

 

In spring through autumn, Grandma and Uncle Richard would take the buckboard wagon into the woods to cut down trees for two weeks at a time, They would take the logs on the wagon to Reeds Spring to sell to the Union Pacific buyer, who bought the logs for railroad ties.

 

On the DeLong Land in Stone County, Missouri, Grandma DeLong always “put out” a large “truck patch” garden. She would use her “Ladies’ Birthday Almanac” to plant the vegetable seeds in the “sign.”

 

Blackberry Season and Gooseberry Season, Grandma DeLong would “fetch” her bucket and head off down over the hill into the hollers to pick the berries for pies, cobblers and canning.

 

The Tree Tragedy

 

On one of these annual berry-picking trips, one of grandma’s sisters from Springfield had come to visit for the day. Grandma’s sister went into the woods with the rest of the women to pick berries. A tree fell on the woman.

 

An obituary in the Springfield newspaper recounts the tragic accident. The old tree simply fell and the woman was unable to move out of the path of the falling tree.

 

The Land Plan

 

My Virgo grandmother with the help of Richard, her eldest Capricorn son always made the ends meet to raise the rest of the family whether they lived in a holler, near Reeds Spring, or out on the highway between Galena and Abesville.

 

Grandma and Uncle Richard raised the livestock and the crops that paid for the DeLong Land between Galena and Abesville. Uncle Richard worked with an extension agent to get two ponds dug and stocked on the farm with catfish.

 

Human Shock Absorbers

In his younger years, Uncle Richard would break the ground by Highway A and plant rows of corn. One year, Cousin Donna and I sat on the disk harrow that was attached to the back of the John Deere A Model tractor.

 

A huge rock surrounded by bailing wire was tied to each end of the harrow to try to keep the metal frame weighed down close to the soil. I and Cousin Donna were the human weights that sat on the plow.

 

The slender metal disc points went down into the soil and kept digging up rocks of all sizes from Stone County’s rocky, dusty, light gray soil. By day’s end, Cousin Donna and I looked like we were covered by the volcanic ash of Mount Pinatubo.

 

The soil had been broke to plant the corn. We had sat on the plow, which had been dragged over the acreage to break the soil. The Life Of A Human Shock Absorber is not a job I ever wanted after being bounced around over the countryside for 12 hours.

 

Farm Ponds For Fishing

 

The ponds provided water for the cattle, hogs and a few head of horses and mules. Uncle Charley Ball, of Springfield, Missouri, always looked forward to the visits to “Richard and Marthy” because he could take the fishing rod out of the back of his green 1952 Chevrolet sedan and go sit on the pond bank to fish and smoke his pipe.

 

Grandma and Uncle Richard’s agricultural business decisions allowed the DeLong Family to farm and own 360 acres, on both sides of State Highway 176 in Stone County, in southwest Missouri from the 1930s until 2007.

 

Opal’s First Public Job

 

Opal had always been tall for her age. She went to school and learned to cook for her brothers, who were out in the fields farming, near Reeds Spring and later, near Abesville, Missouri.

 

At a young age, Opal worked for a few weeks cleaning house for a woman in Galena, known as “Grandma Stewart.” She lived in a white house, across the road, in front of the Warren Lumber Yard. “I made 25 cents a week. I got paid to clean her house,” said Opal.

 

Opal’s First Public Job of earning a regular salary was in northern Missouri.

 

Brother Willie decided to become an “outdoors man” and lived off the land, near Reeds Spring and James River, hunting and fishing. Willie had a son, Harold, and a daughter, Reva. His life ended abruptly at a country wedding reception, near Reeds Spring, in the early 1930s.

 

A gunman began shooting people and Uncle Willie was fatally wounded.

 

Brother Hobert moved to a farm near Abesville. He and his wife, Mary had two sons, Bill, Bob and a daughter, Donna. Uncle Hobert always had the reputation of being a “marksman” and an excellent hunter. He would always return from the woods with “a mess of squirrels or rabbits” for dinner.

 

Brother Joe went to work for the Burlington Northern railroad and later retired back to Stone County, Missouri. He had a daughter, named Darlene, who lives in Michigan.

 

Opal, my Pisces mother, learned how to drive by sitting in a Ford Model T and having one of her brothers push the vehicle at the top of a hill. “As the vehicle rushed down off over the hill on the rough, gravel farm road, the engine would start. I would hold on to the steering wheel and turn it to keep the Model T in the road. That is how I learned to drive,” said Opal.

 

At about age 16, Opal hitchhiked up to northern Missouri and got a job on the Illinois and Missouri border, near St. Charles, Missouri. She was tall for her age, so no one asked for an I.D., and momma got her first job as a clerk in a “liquor store.”

 

She only worked at that job a few months, but, in the process, discovered “relatives” on her mother’s side that she never knew existed.

 

Carol Jane Bellamy

Sagittarian Family Banker

 

My great-grandmother and my mother’s grandmother,Carol Jane Bellamy, a Sagittarius woman, had left northern Missouri and moved to Stone County, Missouri sometime near 1900.

 

Great-grandmother Bellamy the Sagittarian, outlived her first husband. When her second husband didn’t want to leave northern Missouri. My great-grandmother embraced the Sagittarian passion for travel and the maternal love for her daughters and son and left her husband for a chance at a better life in Stone County, Missouri.

 

It was the right decision. Grandma Bellamy raised her children and became a financial role model for her Pisces granddaughter, Opal.

 

Momma always remembered, everyone was poor, but, Grandma Bellamy never went hungry and she kept her children from going hungry by always having enough money for food.

 

Long Lost Relatives

 

A woman who walked past the liquor store thought my mother looked familiar. She went in and talked to her, A few days later, the woman returned with a photo album. She asked momma if any of the people in the photographs looked familiar. Momma recognized a maternal aunt in one of the photos. Suddenly the family connections to northern Missouri cousins became clear and obvious.

 

You Have To Earn Your Way In The World

 

A young woman of The Great Depression, momma knew “You have to earn your way in the world,” Momma loved to remind me, “The world will not ‘give’ you a living; you have to ‘earn’ your way in the world. Work for what you have and want. No one is going to give you anything other than a hard time.”

 

Hospital Cook

 

Opal left northern Missouri and returned to Greene County, in southwest Missouri. For a brief time, she worked as one of the cooks at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield.

 

The old nuns on staff at the hospital were jealous of all the young girls on the staff and in the nursing school. They had all kinds of rules that made work and life difficult because they were always looking over your shoulder,” said Opal.

 

The cooking job at St. John’s didn’t pay enough to put up with that kind of silliness from the old nuns. I quit and found another better paying job that allowed me to make my own decisions about my life,” said Opal.

 

Railroad Bar And Grill Waitress

 

Then, momma went to work at a bar for railroad men, near Commercial Street in Springfield Missouri, and close to the Frisco railroad yard.

 

The railroad men worked hard and would come into the bar for something to eat or drink. I never had any problems being a young girl and working there. Times were tough. No one really had any money. You usually made enough just to get by from week to week,” said Opal.

 

The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor

 

I’ll never forget the day World War II started for the United States. I was sitting in a theater in Springfield, Missouri. They stopped the movie. The house lights came on. They made the announcement over the loud speaker that Pearl Harbor had just been bombed,” Momma said.

 

I was a young woman in Springfield. At the time, I was engaged to Lowell Wilson, a young Marine. His parents owned the Cortez Motor Court in Springfield. I really wasn’t ready to get married.”

 

When the war broke out, I talked to some other young women, who had joined the Army and the Navy in Springfield. I had my heart set on joining the Army for a time. There was an Army camp in Springfield. You could join up and serve, without ever leaving Springfield they told me,” said Opal.

 

Opal and another waitress at the railroad bar talked about the war. Then, on a whim, they went to the Greyhound bus station. They looked up at the destinations and chose Texas.

 

Momma and her friend, knew no one in Texas.

 

The Bus Trip

 

The decision was one of the craziest things I have ever done. I still don’t know why I did it. My friend and I were just tired of living and working in Springfield. We had no idea where we were going or what we were doing. We just went for a bus ride. We got on and off at the different stops,” said Opal.

 

We got off the Greyhound in Dallas. We looked around. She liked the look of Dallas and didn’t get back on the bus. I got back on the bus. When the bus, stopped in Houston, I got off and decided I liked the looks of Houston,”said Momma.

 

I walked out of the bus station and had no idea what I was going to do. I only had a few dollars left in my purse. I got a room at a boarding house, near the bus station for two dollars a week. The next day, I went out looking for work. I saw a newspaper ad that they were hiring welders at the Todd-Houston shipyard,” said Opal.

 

Bread And Water

 

I didn’t have any money for food. I just had a few cents left in my wallet, so I bought a couple of slices of bread. Water was free. I got a glass at the boarding house and got me a glass of water to have with my bread,”said Opal.

 

The heat in Houston would wear you out just walking up the street. There was an old electric fan in the room. I drew a tub of cool water and took my clothes off. I got in the tub, ate my bread and drank my water,” said Momma.

 

She had an overnight bag and a small suitcase to put in the boarding room closet. “I got up and got dressed the next day to go out looking for a job. I had a nice white satin blouse I wore. I got the job and they sent me straight to welding school the same day,” said Opal.

 

The Satin Blouse

 

Arc welding throws off sparks that hit my blouse all over. By the end of the day, I had all these tiny burnt pinholes all over my blouse. I was so embarrassed. I hunkered over in the bus seat. I kept my head down and my arms folded hoping that no one would notice how my skin was showing through the blouse. That was the longest bus ride home that night,” frowns Momma.

 

Anyone who ever met Opal M. DeLong Warren knew she was not the type of woman to act on a “whim.”

 

Youth can trump logic and common sense. The optimism of youth can shrug off the “Fear Of The Unknown.” Young people don’t fear the future; they challenge it.

 

Opal stayed on the job at the shipyard throughout the war building ships for the United States Navy, United States Merchant Marine, United States Coast Guard and welding on the “liberty ships.”

 

We were always so proud whenever we finished one of those big, beautiful ships. We would attend the christening and watch the ship slip down the rails of the dry dock into the water. Then, I would get sad. I would think about all the boys, who were going to sail on that ship into war,” said Momma.

 

The FBI Special Agent

 

Another welder at the shipyard, introduced himself to Opal. “He was a lousy welder. You would always have to go back, chip away at his welds and brush away the slag metal. Then, you would have to run a good bead of metal over the work. I couldn’t imagine why the bosses at the shipyard didn’t fire this man. We always had to go back over his work,” said Opal.

 

FBI LOGO_resizedHe invited me for a cup of coffee a couple of times. I always turned him down. “Then, one day, he came clean. He admitted he was an FBI agent working under cover. At first, I thought he was pulling my leg.”

 

A few days later, he did show me his badge. During the war, there was always the fear of saboteurs. There were posters all around the shipyard and the bosses and the foremen would always remind you, ‘Loose Lips Sinks Ships,’”said Momma.

 

He told me he had been sent there to look for someone. He didn’t get specific. I didn’t ask questions. He wanted me to introduce him to some of the workers around the shipyard and I did. He must of got whoever he was looking for. A few weeks later, we gave him a going away party as a welder, who was leaving,” said Momma.

 

Dollar Document

 

She reaches into her purse and takes out a one dollar bill. Carefully, she holds it and a portion of the dollar folds back. “I had never seen anyone split a dollar bill this way. At the party, he asked me for a dollar. I watched him move it between his fingers, until it started to separate. Then, he had people at the party sign the inside of the dollar bill. He laughed and told me, now, I had a souvenir to remember him by.” Momma laughs,”I still remember, he was a lousy welder.”

 

Lousy Painter

 

Opal became a shop steward at the shipyard. “I met your daddy at the shipyard. After he got his honorable discharge from the Army, he got on out at Todd-Houston as a painter. A friend set me up on a blind date for Thanksgiving. I wasn’t impressed.

 

Your daddy was a lousy painter. A friend told me later that the first time Sammy seen me, he told his friend, ‘I’m going to marry that woman.’ I accepted his invitation for a second date. We started dating. Then, in January of 1947, we got married,” said Momma.

 

Samuel E. Warren made a smart decision to marry Opal M. DeLong. His second smart decision was to marry her on his birthday, which meant he would never “forget” his anniversary.

 

Family Is Everything

 

Momma always stressed the importance of family to me in her business conversations. “You get many things in life. The only thing that matters is family. You get one mother. You get one father. Your brothers and sisters can’t be replaced. Once they are gone – they are gone. Always love and take care of your family. Family Is Everything,” she would emphasize time and again.

 

Momma told me that wherever she worked, she always sent money home to her mother. The psychology of the Ozarks at that time would never view the money as “charity.”

 

People in the Ozarks have a stubborn “work ethic.” The money was simply money from family for the family. And, family always takes care of one another.

 

Balancing The Books

 

As a kid, I would always smile whenever money changed hands in the DeLong Family. They always took a simple act of human kindness in the family and made it seem like Federal Reserve bankers accounting for each coin and currency in a US Mint shipment.

 

If Momma went to a grocery store and saw food or drink that grandma and Uncle Richard liked, she would buy it. Grandma DeLong always made Momma get her “change purse” and take out the money to pay for the groceries.

 

Uncle Richard always did the same thing if Momma picked up groceries or farm supplies for him.

 

It never mattered if the cost was a few cents or several dollars, Grandma and Uncle Richard always made sure Momma got paid back any money she spent for them.

 

Birthdays and Christmas were the only times that you could give Grandma DeLong or Uncle Richard a “gift” because they had the Ozarks belief that “You Pay Your Way In Life.”

 

Save And Manage Your Money

 

When Sammy and Opal got married,for a time, they lived at Opal’s apartment at 1414 Austin, Houston Texas. Opal M. DeLong Warren in her business stories always emphasized “Family” and “Save Your Money And Learn To Manage Your Money.”

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 20, 2012 at 7:35 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Editorial, Family, Money, Opinion, Stone County History

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EDITORIAL: America’s 1970s Health Craze: Death For Dinner

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 Editorial: America’s 1970’s Health Craze: Death For Dinner

America’s

Poison

Food ?

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Consider the possibility, for a moment, that Society’s efforts in the 1970s to “get America healthy” may have inadvertently poisoned our food.

Did we create stronger diseases by misunderstanding nature’s processes?

Then, America’s Health Craze of the 1970s becomes a social fad, rather than a movement. And, the issue of changes in farming practices and the preservatives added to extend the lives of fruits, vegetables and meats should make us wonder what we are really eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

America’s Health Craze in the 1970s took off like a brush fire in a high wind. But, America’s Health Craze spread like an infectious disease that could not be stopped. Time and again people were told if they got “healthy” they would live longer.

1960s’ Bad Health Habits

Rewind to the 1960s. In 1960, many adults smoked cigarettes like choo choo trains and they drank like fish. By the 1960s, it was fairly common knowledge that a chemical known as “Red Dye Number 2” was routinely added to meat to give off a color that shoppers expected their fresh meat in the butcher shop to have.

DDT Outlawed

In the 1960s, DDT had been a popular pesticide that was used to kill insect pests in farm crops. By the 1970s, the serious concerns about the after effects of DDT was getting it off the market quickly and farmers would have to rely on pharmaceutical companies to come up with a safer pesticide.

The 1970s arrived and the American Health Franchises sprang up like Texas oil wells belching crude sky high. As the Ecology Movement and the First Earth Day was gearing up in America, the idea of organic farming and gardening was catching on quickly. Americans wanted “natural” methods used to treat the crops and feed the livestock, which would end up in their supermarkets and on their dinner tables.

From The Soil To The Table

Spade and Seeds – Organic Gardening became popular in the 1970s as Americans sought for natural ways to control insect pests in their gardens without running the risk of endangering the vegetables for the supper table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

While people in the cities were wondering how to “safely” grow their food. Small family farms kept planting their “truck patch” gardens and kept “fattening” up a calf or feeder pig like they had done for generations. The majority of their food came straight from the soil of their gardens to the dinner table.  

Corn in the garden – Home gardeners in Stone County, Missouri use their skill and knowledge of the soil, insects, local wildlife and weather conditions to grow “roasting ears” for the dinner table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.



A farm family’s meat was usually a calf or feeder pig that had been penned up and fed to a given weight. In the fall or the winter, the calf or pig would, then, be “processed” with the pieces of meat being “sugar cured” and hung up in the smokehouse.

Red Angus calf in a pasture on Warren Land – In the 1960s, in Stone County, Missouri, rural farm families would usually select a calf to fatten up and a pig to be a feeder pig for their beef and pork for the winter. By fall or early winter, the animal would be taken to either Crane or Highlandville to the packing plant. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

By the 1960s, in southwest Missouri, the fattened calf or feeder pig would be taken to the Crane or Highlandville packing plants. The meat would be wrapped in paper and readied for families to pick up to put in the freezer until ready for use.

Meanwhile, in American cities in the 1970s, gymnasiums sprouted up like weeds. The enthusiasts were pushing “Running” like carnival barkers at an amusement park. “Jogging” quickly became the fad of the day and by 1973, it seemed everyone in America had a gym membership, polyester headbands, wristbands, jogging suits and sneakers.

Even before critics and legislators went after cigarette smokers and breweries, the health entrepreneurs were churning out everything from powdered health drinks to the “No Pain, No Gain” T Shirts.

The American Health Craze Theory of the 1970s

The theory was America was going to get healthy. Americans would live longer. Some optimists even claimed that most major diseases would be a thing of the past.

In 2011, it seems “America’s Health Craze” was simply a “craze,” that flashed like lightning and disappeared like white shoes, white belts and platform shoes of the 1970s.

American Health Craze Significant Results ?

Americans are still dropping dead of Heart Attacks, Heart Disease and Strokes. Cancer seems even more vicious now than in 1960, or, perhaps, we have felt the need to “segregate” the different types of Cancer into specialized categories

I remember some adults in the 1960s had diabetes, but no one ever said “Type II Diabetes.”

I remember a few overweight people in the 1960s, but, in 2011, it seems “Every American alive has a weight issue from kids to adults.”

Old Timers or Alzheimer ?

In the 1960s, I remember, there were some elderly people who were said to be going senile or had a case of “Old Timers.” The name Alzheimer had not been used yet. I remember very few people who became so stricken that they would be helpless and bed-ridden until death. “Hospice” and “Home Health Care” were unknown terms in the 1960s, especially in southwest Missouri, where rural families looked after one another.

In 2011, Alzheimer seems to have become an accepted step on the road to an elderly death.

If Americans health is getting worse in 2011; what really happened in the 1970s ?

I suspect, two major changes: (1) A Significant Change In Farming Procedures and (2) Preservatives allowed more foods to be stocked on grocery store shelves

In the 1970s, the first heart transplant was performed. It would seem the American Medical Community was on the right track. Where did the American Health Craze Train slam into the mountain?

Why The Change In Farming Procedures ?

The healthy ideas to improve America’s Food Supply may have poisoned it. A farming idea to improve poultry and livestock in the 1970s may have backfired.

Livestock Logic

Livestock gets their nutrients from the soil. Cows eat grass and the nutrients get absorbed into their bodies. Hogs root their noses in the dirt and you can watch them smacking away at insects in the soil. Chickens scratch at the soil and peck their beaks in the dirt. But, the concept of “Confinement Farming of the 1970s” was aimed at changing the traditional approach.

A Red Angus and a Polled Hereford cow in the old tomato field pasture on Warren Land. These cattle are in the pasture that in the 1970s bloomed with “Red Gold of Stone County, Missouri ” – tomatoes. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Poultry Penitentiaries

The poultry change seemed to happen quickly. Chickens and turkeys were no longer free to roam around outside and peck and scratch in the dirt. Suddenly, they were confined into long poultry houses that became Maximum Security Prisons For Poultry. Rows of cages in a controlled environment of heating and cooling. They either laid eggs or remained in their cages until plump enough to be shipped off for “processing.”

Since chickens and turkeys were no longer free to scratch in the soil and absorb minerals into their bodies that would mean that those minerals would have to be artificially induced, either through feed or vaccinations. Nature quit feeding the chickens and the turkeys, who were being raised in controlled “cradle to the grave” environments with no access to nature.

Confinement Farming

My 1970s Ag Ring. Hand model- Samuel E. Warren Jr. Photo by Christy Warren.

I was in the Future Farmers of America and the vocational agriculture courses in the early 1970s. I remember in 1972 information was everywhere about “Confinement Farming,” especially beef cattle. farmers were being encouraged to “confine” their cattle into new styles of barns to restrict and eventually eliminate the livestock’s movement into the outdoors.

On the surface, the idea seemed logical. Data was being distributed that a single cow could eat X amount of pasture that translated into significant amounts of money in terms of acres of pasture needed to feed a cow.

Plus, in the fall and winter, when pasture dies, farmers had to have the money to supply bales of hay to feed their cattle through the winter. A dry spring or summer in southwest Missouri meant local farmers would try to contact farmers in Arkansas or Texas for hay, which then added the cost of transportation to the cost of the hay.

Thus, Confinement Farming would be cheaper and reap more profits faster if cattle were taken out of the field and imprisoned in these barns. It was a hard sell issue. I remember, farm magazine after farm magazine seemed to applaud the ideology because it was aimed at cutting expenses and increasing profits. The obvious size difference of cattle in comparison to chickens was one of the drawbacks to trying to confine cattle into barns from the cradle to the grave production cycle.

In southwest Missouri, in Stone County, cattle are still allowed to graze in pastures. There are no large cattle beef farms or factory farms in southwest Missouri.  In 2011, the majority of Stone County farmers are part-time farmers, who have to have a “day job” to make a living and supply money for farming.

I’ve heard local farmers complain that it seems the state and federal governments are constantly coming up with new laws to force farmers to increase record keeping and vaccinations of beef cattle. The Mad Cow Scare of the 1990s is the supposed justification for the mandated government changes, but the rise in cattle vaccinations began in the 1970s in Stone County, Missouri.  

My mother, a hog farmer, who had a herd of 25 Hampshire, Yorkshire and Duroc hogs in the 1960s and 1970s had begun to complain in the late 1970s that there were fewer “feeder pig” buyers coming to farms to buy the pigs

And, the rumors of hog farmers being forced by the government to adopt the practices of “confinement farming” for hogs was a persistent rumor and concern in the late 1970s.  By the early 1980s, my mother  had sold off the swine and “gotten out of the hog business.”

Beefing Up The Beef”

As a kid, a Black Angus bull normally weighed in about 400 to 500 pounds. In 2011, they seem to look more like 800 pounds. That might not be a problem if the cattle are naturally evolving into bigger beef physiques, but if government regulations are forcing the “beefing up” of bulls, then, essentially you may have the “bodybuilder using steroids issue” being forced on cattle through official channels.

The increased weight could also cause a problem for farmers. If the bigger bulls are being used to service the cows then there is the possibility that the cows will be unable to breed.

Like a woman, it takes a cow nine months to deliver. If a farmer has a cow that does not give birth to a calf or the calf dies then that is a year’s time plus a year’s food and water is wasted. In a herd of 25 or more cattle, you multiply the sterile or still births and the outcome is a farmer is facing the real possibility of bankruptcy.

The irony is that Black Angus was always a favored breed among local farmers because the calves were born small and naturally and quickly grew to a respectable size for beef to be taken to the market in a short period of time in comparison to other breeds of cattle.

Pork Prisons

Once the move to imprison turkeys and chickens had caught on and the idea to confine cattle seemed to be catching on , then, the experts focused on hogs. Again, the solution was essentially the same as with cattle. Confine the hogs to a building to reduce the amount of pasture needed and increase profits quickly by fattening up the hogs and getting them processed quicker.

While a cow chews the grass in a pasture, a hog roots their snout deep into the dirt and enthusiastically consumes the minerals in their mouths. Experts may not have realized the importance of the minerals being naturally consumed. Hogs will also find a shade in a hollow and lie on beds of dead leaves or root up the dirt to create a hog wallow, where they can roll in the dirt to refresh themselves.

After a rain, they will wallow in these ruts and cover themselves with mud to stay cool, during a hot day. Since hogs root under fences in search of earthworms, grub worms and plant roots, farmers would put a ring in their noses to keep the swine in their own pastures. Hogs always seemed committed to making a major environmental impact on nature.

Experts’ theory was that hogs could be kept in buildings with concrete floors that would be easy to clean. No longer able to root around over acres of land, the cradle to grave production cycle of hogs would result in savings to farmers who wouldn’t need acres of land to raise herds of hogs.

However, the inability of hogs to root in the ground and wallow in the pasture to interact with nature would mean that the swine would have to receive the minerals artificially in the feed or through shots.

Another benefit of the hog confinement operation over the traditional hog farm was: The Smell. Growing up on a hog farm you learn quickly that hog manure has a distinctive strong odor and if the wind shifts toward your nose, then, you have no doubt you are on a hog farm. Confinement farming of hogs solved the problem of neighbors’ sensitive noses and local planning and zoning regulations.

Vegan Victims ?

Vegans and vegetarians are not immune to the changes in farming. Without livestock in the pasture to continue Nature’s chain of recycling; there has to be a way to replenish the soil. In southwest Missouri in the 1960s, farmers basically relied on the Holy Bible instructions of farming a piece of land for six years and letting it lie “fallow” – unused for the seventh year.

Burning Brush

While the land laid unploughed and unplanted for a year, brush was cut off of the land. Farmers would then choose a calm evening in the fall and stand watch as they burned the brush piles. Burning the brush piles, destroyed winter habitats for snakes, chiggers and ticks, while the burned woods would contribute minerals back into the soil to promote pasture growth in the coming year.

In 2011, in Stone County, Missouri, local farmers haven’t burned any of their brush piles for years. Natural decay of dead leaves and rotting wood takes years to return the minerals to the soil. Spring and Summer of 2011, I have noticed several snakes on the land and the number of ticks seem overwhelming just by walking through the yard.

Without brush being burned to put minerals back into the soil, some local farmers have to resort to buying chemical fertilizers to spread on their pastures to promote the growth of grasses. Thus, minerals have to be artificially replaced into the soil for livestock to consume.

Usually cattle, hogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, and goats would digest the nutrients in their bodies and return the digested waste in the form of manure to the pasture, thus, Nature’s fertilizer would break down and naturally feed the plants and grasses.

Once poultry and livestock were taken out of pastures and confined on concrete floor rather than the earth, then, of course, alternative fertilizers had to be added to the soil. Plus, without getting the minerals naturally from nature meant that the poultry and livestock would have to receive the nutrients through either feed or shots.

Vaccinations for Disease not Vitamins

In the 1960s, farmers usually vaccinated their livestock to prevent or quickly stop the spread of a possible disease. In 2011, I’ve noticed that farmers seem to be required to give their cattle a series of seemingly never ending vaccinations.

Danger of Preservatives ?

The real issue of the distances of geography in the United States means that businesses have to have a solution to keep food “fresh” from the pastures to the market. While the government seemed to support the “confinement farming” concept, there would also have to be a way to try and preserve “freshness” in the foods until they reach their destinations.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is the agency that is charged with trying to figure out what works and doesn’t work when it comes to food and drugs. The fanatic push of health enthusiasts of the 1970s had to have FDA officials and Department of Agriculture inspectors under the gun to get healthy produce on the shelves quickly.

In the 1970s it seemed almost every week there was a new powdered health drink going on the shelves that suggested it could turn 98-pound weaklings into buff bodybuilders and do it healthy. Perhaps, rigorous testing was done, but, the persistent push for healthy foods quickly expanded the ingredients labels on boxes to include a plethora of words that read more like the periodic table of elements rather than natural ingredients.

Personal Conclusion

The claims of the American Health Craze of the 1970s were that by living healthy and eating healthy fruits, meat and vegetables, Americans would live longer and not have the debilitating diseases and health problems of their parents and grandparents.

Yet, in 2011, I notice that virtually every American wrestles with weight issues in their lives. Middle age and senior Americans visit their doctors to be put on diets to control their blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, calories, weight and the amount of salt in their diets. I don’t remember hearing adults in the 1960s routinely going to their doctors for diets.

Vegetables Grow In The Garden – In the 1960s, Stone County farm families usually picked their vegetables straight out of the garden and took them into the kitchen to wash, clean and cook for the evening’s dinner table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Personally, my parents and grandmother seemed healthier physically than middle age, senior and, even the younger people that I see on the sidewalk.

Vegetable Row In The Garden – In 2011, Americans and Missourians, who live in major metropolitan cities like Kansas City, St. Louis, Jefferson City, Springfield, Republic,Nixa and Branson may have to rely on supermarkets for fresh fruits, meats and vegetables. In rural communities like Galena, Abesville, Crane and Reeds Spring, southwest Missouri residents can “go to the garden” and pick their produce. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

There is even news stories in 2011 of how medical officials are suggesting to legislators to pass laws to remove children from their parents because the kids are “obese.” The irony is the issue may be that Society is responsible for the childrens’ weight gain overall and not necessarily the parents.

In the 1900s, arsenic was used to kill pests on tomato plants. A buildup of arsenic in the body leads to death, thus, people quit using arsenic to kill off tomato plant pests.

Buying bottled water, counting calories, watching the cholesterol number, jogging and working out on a regular basis to live longer may not mean much if we are all eating poisoned food on a regular basis that have added preservatives and artificially substituted synthetic minerals rather than natural minerals from the earth.

The irony of America’s Health Craze of the 1970s is in our enthusiasm to get healthy and live longer, we may have created new health problems, increased old ones and essentially “poisoned our own food supply” by trying to take short cuts to produce healthier meat, fruits and vegetables while trying to make more money quicker for businesses within the overall food processing system.

Bon Appetite !

Sam

Story Sources

Confinement Farming – Factory Farming – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factory_farming

DDT – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT

Mad Cow Disease – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovine_spongiform_encephalopathy

Written by samwarren55

July 18, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Posted in Editorial, Family, HEALTH, Opinion, Photos

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