Labor Day is a day off for many workers. So I guess it is a non-labor Labor Day.

I will be spending Labor Day being thankful for a job to labor at, machines to help us with much of the back-breaking work, and people who still get out there and do the work most of us turn up our noses at.

First of all, to tell you the truth, if I didn’t have something to occupy my mind and body I would probably go crazy (er). Then I would be staying home, be in my wife’s hair, and in short that would not be good.

Next, I hate to say it but most of us in this country do not know what real labor is like. I am always hearing folks talk about bringing back the good old days, but they seem to forget that they were hard-working days.

I remember the so-called good old days when I opened my first bank account when I was 12 years old with $100 saved from picking cotton and butterbeans for the previous seven years on my granddaddy’s’ farm. However, I was never much of a cotton picker. Working as hard as I could I would harvest only about 50 pounds a day and at 5 cents a pound I could make about $15 a week. Today cotton pickers with only one operator can harvest well over 50 acres a day.

I did a little better with the butterbeans at $1 a bucket with four to five buckets in a 12 hour day. Thank goodness most butterbeans are machine picked today or we would be missing out on one of our Southern staples.

Next, I love my vegetables and fruits, but many are still hand-harvested. For instance, fresh market cucumbers, squash, strawberries, melons, peppers, etc., are still picked by hand. Would you like to bend over kissing the ground, have your posterior sticking up in the air, and hauling container after container of produce to a truck? Especially when neither you nor anyone else in America wants to pay most of their income for food like they have to do in other countries.

As difficult as this may appear it is only part of the story. After a crop is harvested a time clock is started and a lot of preparation, packaging, marketing, and hauling must take place to get that crop to your table.

Finally, we all need to know and be thankful at what it takes to feed this country. Food does not just appear at the grocery store – it takes a lot of labor. I guess all of this is why we don’t all have endless gardens, have a bunch of kids to harvest, and work from sun-up to sun-down like we did in those so-called good old days. While you are out grilling on Labor Day just realize that crops do not observe Labor Day and must be harvested when ready (even on Labor Day) so you don’t have to miss your pickle, onion, lettuce, and tomato on your burger.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.