The Face of Farming
Kathleen Buckalew spent parts of the past six years canvassing the state interviewing and photographing local farmers. Some of these folks still make their living off the land while others have passed on. But one fact is evident as we enjoy these portraits: The disappearing faces of Delaware farming will always be with us thanks to Buckalew’s dedication and talent.
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Slaughter Beach, grain
Wells, who passed away recently, didn’t let a wheelchair get in the way of his work. Buckalew says Wells’ son would boost him into his tractor, which he would operate by using a 2-by-4 to push the throttle and brake. Said Wells: “I’m just an ordinary farmer. I grew up on a farm and I liked it. It’s a good life. It’s a hard life, you either like it and enjoy it, or you hate it and quit. There is nothing in-between. Right now, I do what I call “window farming.” My grandson’s car seat is in the passenger seat in my pickup, and when I need to go look at something, I call his mother and take him out for a few hours and check things out. You’d be surprised how much you can get done window farming. You ride around and check everything out and if something’s wrong, I call my son or somebody and they come fix it.
“I keep doing this because I truly love it. I like the challenge of farming. It is a gamble every year to see how your crops do. I feel close to nature out here. You’re really happy all year long, as long as it rains and everything looks real good. If you have a drought, then you don’t even want to leave the house and look at it. It’s hard getting through years like that, but you keep going because you have so much invested in it.”
Woodside, beef cattle
Caulk is a former state representative. “We are not doing enough for preservation of farmland. My fellow legislators just don’t get it that this is a serious problem. We are getting more and more food from other countries, where they use chemicals that we have outlawed here, and we have no protection with what is coming over our borders. We have the best aquifer in the whole country and we are putting houses on top of it. When they talk about a growth zone, they don’t mean growing food. We take our best land and turn it into housing.”
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