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Archive for May, 2011

Muddy Fields, Still a Busy Day

May 30, 2011 2 comments

Mel Paz, 69, has worked as a migrant farm worker since 1953.  For most of his life he would work every day, no matter the day of the week or holiday.  But since the use of Roundup Ready sugar beets and other agricultural technological advances, the need for work has diminished.

“I used to work everyday, even on holidays,” Paz said.  “But now the chemicals have made the jobs disappear.”

Becuase the fields do not need constant attention for weeding and thinning the crops, Paz works to dig irrigation ditches and build pipes for various farmers in the Mitchell, Neb., area.  The rain throughout the week allowed Paz to not work on Saturday.

He spent the day mowing his lawn, going to the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and going to the farm of Jerry Lovelace.

Check out the UNL photo documentary project’s progress here.

Categories: Migrant

Mel Paz Digging Irrigation Ditches

May 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Mel Paz, 69, has been coming to Mitchell, Neb., every summer for migrant farm work since 1975.  Roundup Ready sugar beets have virtually eliminated the need for migrant farm workers because there are no more weeds to pull anymore.

Paz still comes up every year, but now he mainly does odd jobs for multiple farmers during the summer.  Monday and Tuesday, Paz spent most of the day digging the dirt from irrigation ditches.

Check out the UNL photo documentary project’s progress here.

Categories: Migrant

Working for his Family

May 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Domingo Martinez, 36, works at Rocking TJ Farms in Hemingford, Neb.  He is the sole provider for his family of six.  When he and his wife, Sulema, were growing up in Mexico and Nebraska, they both worked on the farms pulling weeds and thinning the fields of sugar beets.

But since the introduction of Roundup Ready sugar beets, the number of jobs in the area have diminished significantly.  Sulema can no longer find work in the fields, so she stays home to watch their four kids.

Martinez spent Monday morning tilling the corn fields, but the left over sugar beets from last year’s harvest continually got caught in the tilling rotors.  So Martinez had to stop in the middle of the field almost every pass in order to remove the stuck sugar beets.

Check out the UNL photo documentary project’s progress here.

Categories: Migrant

Visiting a Friend

May 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Mel Paz, 69, has been coming to Nebraska for migrant farm work since 1975.  He has built close relationships with many of the farmers, ranchers and business owners in the Mitchell, Neb., area.

His good friend, Tom Mauler, and Paz visited Sunday on Mauler’s farm just north of Mitchell in Souix County, Neb.  The pair walked about a mile and a half around the whole farm, explored the petrified carcass of a cow and enjoyed coffee and chatting in the evening.

Paz also visited the abandoned remains of his Nebraska home during the summer of 1977.  He, his wife and their four children lived in the home while the family cleaned beet and bean fields from April to August of that year.

Monday, Paz will start his work building irrigation pipes in ditches for a couple of other farmers in the area.

Check out the UNL photo documentary project’s progress here.

Categories: Migrant

Rain and Mud Means More Time to Cook

May 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Mel Paz, 69, has been coming to work in Nebraska as a migrant farm worker since 1975.  He has built relationships with almost all the farming families in Mitchell and Scottsbluff, Neb.

The recent rainfall has delayed Paz’s normal work schedule.  This next week, Paz will work to organize a garage on Jerry Lovelace’s farm and start to build irrigation pipes for some sugar beet fields.

Paz cooked a beef head for dinner on Friday after letting it cook for 13 hours.  He and his family eat the cheeks, tongue and brains of the barbacoa.

Check out the UNL photo documentary project’s progress here.

Categories: Migrant

Mel Paz: Migrant Farm Worker Off the Farm

May 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Mel Paz, 69, has worked as a migrant farm worker for 58 years.  His son, Carlos, lives in Mitchell, Neb., year-round, but Paz goes back to Crystal City, Texas for part of the year.  When Paz is working in Nebraska, he stays with his son, son-in-law, and two of his grandsons in one house.

Check out the UNL photo documentary project’s progress here.

Categories: Migrant

Domingo Martinez

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Domingo Martinez Jr., 36, has been a migrant farm worker since he was nine years old.  His father, Domingo Sr., worked for the father of the farmer Martinez works for now.  For the past five years, Martinez has worked as a tractor driver and overall handyman for Tom Jensen of Rocking TJ Farms in Hemingford, Neb.

Martinez spends March through November in western Nebraska, and moves his family back to McAllen, Texas for the rest of the year.

Because of the rain and mud today, Martinez spent the day working in the shop and creating some new plumbing for the fertilizer.

Check out the UNL photo documentary photo project’s progress here.

Categories: Migrant