The Farm (4)

The mid-nineteen seventies were the heyday of agriculture.  Modern machinery was wedded to traditional practise making chores less arduous.  Corporations had not yet figured out how much they could squeeze out of farmer’s profit margins, meaning that farmers could not lose money for their labour.  Vigorous.  Prosperous.  Simple, physical labour-saving equipment was all the rage and indoor plumbing had finally come to everyone on the farm.

In the agricultural universities the double-helix was being uncoiled and biological pathways were at last fully understood and described.  Still prior to the advent of high technology, agricultural scientists were working within the yet-natural order, trying to understand how to better use those ecological pathways to increase productivity.  Chemicals were limited to basic fertilizers; the effects of catastrophically dangerous insecticides and their perverse usage had backed the industry off of over-generalized dissemination and usage.  It was a clean time where physical labour still defined the cost of production and product price.

There were three universities in the country that were considered the best agricultural schools, meaning, they were the top research institutions.  I was accepted for studies in one of these.  At the time I was ignorant of what this meant in terms of corporate and governmental influence on what was being taught.  It was a tough and stringent program.

For four years I studied animal science.  The courses were extremely thorough, rigorous, in depth, and often lasted a year in duration.  These included: biology and microbiology, chemistry and organic chemistry, reproduction, genetics, heritability, breeding, nutrition, feeds, feed stuffs, feed formulation, live animal conformation, carcass evaluation, meat and muscle, butchering, soils, agronomy, crops, forages, animal housing, agricultural engineering, agricultural economics, and veterinary anatomy, physiology and pharmacology.  And there was specialized coursework involving cattle, sheep, horses, and hogs.  For a full year I worked on a university farm that was fully run by the students as a course.