Much has been written about the plight of the small farmer, his perennial struggle to survive in the face of mounting economic pressures. However, while the media spotlight has largely focused on the dramatic financial demise of some farms, other family-run operations have been quietly, almost invisibly, imploding. Even on the most successful farms, a hidden crisis is often brewing: succeeding generations are no longer perceiving farming as a viable way of life. The business may be thriving, but the idea of family farming is rapidly becoming a relic of another age.
The small dairy farm where my mother grew up in Richfield Springs, New York is now facing just such a dilemma. The last of five generations of Ames men to own this land, my cousin Langdon has survived recessions, competition from corporate agribusiness, and small-town malaise, something that many neighboring farmers have not been able to do. Nonetheless, as he approaches seventy years of age, Lanny, a father of six grown children, finds himself with no one to continue a family tradition that dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. How did this happen? Did the character of the people in my family contribute to this situation--or is small farming simply becoming an outmoded way of life by twenty-first century standards? And what will be the future of the Ames family homestead? This film is my attempt to find the answers.