Bruce Colvin spent a recent Saturday driving a tractor to Washington in support of the American Agricultural Movement's national farm strike. Monday and Tuesday he harvested corn, and on Wednesday he drove to Warrenton to attend a Virginia Tech farm school.
It was not he sort of schedule the 45-year-old Colvin was likely to have anticipated when he was growing up in Washington, or working for Procter & Gamble, or selling insurnace.
But in 1975, Colvin, his wife and three sons became farmers on land near Nokesville, Va., (about 40 miles from Washington) which had been in his family since 1849. His father, a physician in Washington, bought it from a cousin in 1941, and Colvin inherited 162 acres on his father's death. Colvin farms that land, 140 acres he rents and 81 acres owned by his mother. She lives in Pilgrim's Rest, the house built in 1750 on the place.
Colvin moved to the farm in 1972, operating it part-time and earnings about $30,000 a year selling insurance.
"I saw an opportunity to be self-employed and I saw a challenge," Colvin said, "and I went full-time in the spring of 1975."
"My wife Barbara resumed teaching when I started (farming full-time) with the idea that it would help us get started. We had hoped that would be temporary, but with drought and poor prices she has had to keep teaching.
"Colvin started farming with no debt and now owes about $40,000. Last year he borrowed $14,000 for seed and fertilizer to plant corn, anticipating a gross return of $35,000.
"Will the combination of drought and low prices the return is actually $12,000. I didn't even recover the seed and fertilizer," he said.
Colvin estimates that his [WORD ILLEGIBLE] should be able to clear about $10,000 in a normal year, but has yet to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] a normal year.
"If we can't pull out of this loss situation I might work off the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] again. We had every hope - a perfectly reasonable chance - of a majorprofit this year," he said.
Colvin had 35 head of cattle, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] hogs, corn, soybeans and has hadcrops last year and is now trying decide whether to cut back on [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and increase hog production. An [WORD ILLEGIBLE] alternative is to raise sheep. But he says he would not want to expandproduction and get into sheep at the same time, because he doesn't want to try two new things at once.
His sons, Edward 17, and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] 15, leave the house at 7:15 a.m. to walk a mile to the bus stop. Mrs. Colvin drives 8-year-old Ernest to the busstop on her way to school.
The older boys get home at about 3:45 p.m. and feed the hogs and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Mrs. Colvin gets back about 4 p.m. and Ernest walks from the school at about 4:30.
"The boys are geared more [WORD ILLEGIBLE] outdoors than I was in the city. Theyhave more opportunity for that than Idid.
"They work more than I did on a daily basis and are less occupied friends. I don't have any fears of getting into trouble. They don't time," Colvin said.
"I'm not saying we're isolated to all the sins of the city, but there's temptation. Their social life [WORD ILLEGIBLE] around their friends and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] dances, but they're really no that differet from the city kids. With television and the newspapers, we're influenced by the city."
"The change really comes from being occupied on the farm. They work,Colvin said.