In cantankerous opinions, hard-headed advice, and free-swinging sketches of real farmers, Bryan Jones addresses everyone who feels the pull of the land. He accepts the emotional appeal of “going back to the land” and then takes the unconventional stand that, above all, farming can be a good way to make money. Against the grain of public policy that, he maintains, encourages big agriculture, Jones works out how a shrewd, stubborn small farmer can still make a go of it.
His keen-eyed sketches of farmers at work show the variety of ways a farmer may succeed or fail. Even his own neighborhood, dominated by thousands of acres of corn and high technology, is peopled with “scalper” who makes a living in the cattle business with little more stake than a gooseneck trailer, a telephone, and his native wits; the sheep man who secretly grows rich while looking poor and raising an animal that other farmer disdain; the experimenter who never turns a nickel himself, but whose successful innovations are readily adopted by his neighbors; the hog raiser who makes a large family pay.
The heart of the book is the primer for novices—and for city folk who dream of farming. Jones emphasizes the practicalities of farm finance and recommends sidelines for the beginner—welding, giving guitar lessons, keeping the books for a local elevator—as an alternative to starving. He urges newcomers to start small and to be sure that farming is something they really want to do. To interested bystanders, The Farming Game offers one farmer’s audacious, stimulating, and entertaining view of American agriculture today.