On Her Own

On-Her-Own HotDocs 2015Header-image-StephenBy Robert K Stephen

(TORONTO, ON) – Things not going down well at the family farm. I’m not quite sure, but many of us idealize the family farm. Is it because many of us have family farms in our ancestral history? Or, perhaps some of us have become politicized over agri-business and like to favour the little guy.

This non narrated documentary follows the slow decline of the Gleason Ranch in California, which is primarily a meat producing farm. It’s been in the family for some five generations, but dear old dad dies, mom soon follows, and the family unit is down manpower and knowledge.

The bills mount.

Financial problems creep up awfully quickly, but the film offers a fascinating view of the operation of Gleason Ranch. As meat is their business, you’ll see a bit of death, whether by rifle shot, a rabbit being skinned, or a sow crushing a piglet or two.

Before you get on your vegetarian soapbox, there are many who rely on the meat business to survive, like the family behind Gleason Ranch.

If there is any flaw in the documentary it would appear to be a lack of political savvy, or piercing questions of, “How on earth did these farmers end up in such a precarious position?”

It may be they are hearty, self reliant, and proud farmers who are good and simple. They blame themselves as opposed to the system.

If you are rooting for the little guy, matters do not end well.

(On Her Own, USA, Director Morgan Schmidt-Feng, 2014, 80 Minutes, Showing as part of Toronto Hot Docs Festival and an International Premiere, April 27/29 and May 1, 2015)

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC.

Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden.

Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, “Have Story, Will Write.”

Email Robert Stephen

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