As a requirement for our Photojournalism class we visited a couple of farms in the Catskills area. The first one was the Hager farm. Besides taking photographs for our class assignment we had a chance to interview the farmers and ask question about their daily activities in the farm. This was a family owned farm, most kids that grow on this farm spend at least half of their life working on this family business. Some may stay working here their entire life to keep with the family business. While others may choose to move away from the farm life. Farmers have a great responsibility in our communities, they are the driving force that makes possible most of our food gets delivered to supermarkets and then direct to consumers. We had a chance to try fresh milk directly while they were harvesting the milk from the cow, which was a very enriching experience.
Animals are treated well in this farm and they care for them as they would with any member of their family. The farm owners were very socializing and open when we asked questions and even let us take portraits of them. A few things I learned about the cattle industry is that they don’t raise male cattle or bulls, as they may become aggressive and hurt people or other animals when they are fully grown. So the way to breed cattle is by artificial insemination. This job is performed by a trained farmer that must introduce the semen into a cow’s reproductive tract manually. A technique that is usually done by professional technicians but now farmers have learned the technique and are shifting away from hiring these professionals.
We visited a second farm that produced only organic products. A major difference about this farm it’s the way they feed the cattle in order to produce organic milk. This is more restricted process as they must meet the standard set by organic control bodies. They face constant inspections from these entities that regulate and inspect the process. As the farmer explained, to become an organic farm, the land needs also to convert to organic status. For this to occur all feed-stuffs used on the farm must be produced and certified to organic standards. People at this farm were also very friendly and let us use our equipment and get close to the animals. Even though the time was shorter here. We got to learn how the organic process worked in a farm. We headed back to New York, which was a 3-hour ride. There was a big storm in the halfway back, which delayed the traffic, but we finally made it.