The next bit of BIG NEWS from the homestead is that Kyle, (son #2, the Marine), has just passed his one year anniversary of graduating from Marine Boot Camp in Parris Island, SC. We are very proud of him and thankful for his desire and willingness to serve our country. Very much looking forward to seeing him at the end of March. He will be home for about 10 days and then back to North Carolina where he will make final preparations to ship out on his first deployment. Our family will be grateful for any prayers on his behalf as we have know idea what lies ahead for him. We find much peace and comfort knowing that our God can take better care of him than we can, no matter where in the world he is.
For those with enough interest in things agrarian to do a little reading on the subject, you have probably heard of the name Wendell Berry. For those who have not heard of him, he is most likely the foremost American thinker and writer of the 20th and 21st century when it comes to the topic of agrarian ideals. He was born in 1934 on a farm in rural Kentucky. Like many kids his age, he left the farm for college. After college he entered the world of academia at Stanford University and later the University of Kentucky. But that world could not hold him. After being absent from the farm for 15 years, he and his family returned to his native Kentucky. Here he settled on a small hillside farm where he would live out his days farming and writing. (He’s still does both at 80 years old). His best known work, I believe, is “The Unsettling of America”. Its not an easy read but I found it deeply profound. I certainly recommend it for your consideration if you have any interest in agriculture in our country.
What I would like to do here is review a much shorter essay found in one of his other works, “HOME ECONOMICS”. The title of this essay is “Six Agricultural Fallacies”. I will take a look at one of the six in each of the next six posts.
1. “That agriculture may be understood and dealt with as an industry.” Berry says this is false because;
A. agriculture has to do with “living creatures and biological processes” whereas industry has to do with non-living materials and mechanical processes. While industry is primarily concerned with productivity, efficiency and ever increasing wages, agriculture is primarily concerned with stewardship, care and health (of land, plants, animals and people). B. Any given industry/factory has a limited life expectancy. Good agriculture can continue indefinitely. Yes, buildings and tools wear out, families come and go. But if the topsoil is properly used and maintained there is real-life evidence that it can be continuously productive for thousands of years. C. “The economy of industry is inimical to the economy of agriculture. The economy of industry is, typically, an extractive economy. It takes, makes, uses discards“ (and pollutes). It progesses , that is, from exhaustion to pollution. Agriculture (good and proper agriculture) on the other hand, rightly to a replenishing economy, which takes, makes, uses, and returns. It involves the return to the source, not just of fertility, of so-called “wastes,” but of care and affection. Otherwise, the topsoil is used exactly as a mineable fuel, and is destroyed in use. Thus, in agriculture, the methods of the factory give us the life expectancy of the factory- long enough for us, perhaps, but not long enough for our children and grandchildren. “ In summary, I would say that good, sound agriculture and industry have totally different presuppositions and motives. When our culture tries to squeeze agriculture into the industrial model there are a few things that get squeezed out. The first thing squeezed out is the farmer himself. With the help of the USDA's mantra of "get big or get out" and their accompanying policies we have gone from a nation of over 90% farmers to a nation of less than 2% farmers. Another effect of industrialized agriculture is the loss of stewardship. The primary emphasis of modern farming has been production (as in the amount produced) leaving careful stewardship of the land as an afterthought or something optional for "those who can afford it".
It was 32 degrees and still some snow on the ground, but I got my cultivator out and was stirring around in the raised bed garden. No, I didn’t get my peas planted on St. Patrick’s day, in fact I didn’t get anything planted but what I did do was cover the raised bed with plastic. This creates a mini greenhouse. I’ll leave the plastic on for about 2 week to help warm up the soil. Some time in the beginning of April I’ll peel back the plastic and start planting. Lettuce, spinach, and radishes are the first to go in. Can’t wait to get some dirt on my hands!!
In Oct of 2013 about 12 or 13 guys from our church came over to help with the “UnAmish” barn roof raising. Up until this point most of the work was done by myself or help from my boys or a friend stopping by to lend a hand for a short time. But when it came to framing the roof I knew I was going to need a good bit of help. God blessed us with a picture-perfect fall day. We started around 7:30 in the morning and finished around 5:00 in the evening. Marla and some of her wonderful friends made a great lunch for everyone. It was a great day of working together and no one fell or got hurt. Thank you Lord for a great day!! And THANKS to all my friends for their generous help!!
Thanks again for stopping by the Lil Bitty Farm blog.
Blessings to you friends,