I recently read a news article about how Seattle animal shelters are being completely overrun by chickens. The reason? Urban hipsters got it in their heads that farming is this great romantic lifestyle that allows them to ensure their food is completely “organic” while looking really groovy to their boho-clad friends. They set up garden boxes of corn and chicken coops on their high-rise apartment rooftops in the hopes of reducing their carbon footprints while providing an endless supply of eggs with which to make tofu omelets. What they failed to realize is this:
FARMING IS HARD.
“I don’t understand,” they say. “I wore vintage flannel and suspenders and everything!”
And then they take their beloved chickens to the animal shelter with the hope that some kind soul will give them a loving home…rather than just eating them like a real farmer.
Farming may appear to be the vogue thing to do in this age of environmental hyper-vigilance and organic foods, but the reality is a far cry from the romanticized lifestyle promoted by those whom Phil Robertson (of Duck Dynasty) would call “urban yuppies.”
It’s dirty. It’s difficult. And sometimes, it’s downright depressing.
But it’s also the most satisfying work you could ever do because it’s work fueled by love: love of family, love of tradition, love of God, and love of the land.
While feeding cows on the ranch with my grandpa and uncle (who appear several times in this album), the immortal words of Paul Harvey came to mind:
And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.
“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, come planting time and harvest season, will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another 72 hours.” So God made a farmer.
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.
“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.'” So God made a farmer.