A few miles down the Clontarf road from our place is this farmstead. Imagine the heartache that comes from losing your way of life, your dreams, the calling to farm. Farming is a calling. I had a great conversation with a Dean of a College of Agriculture from a major Land-grant University. He said that he had visited every farm in the then ground breaking book "Sustainable Agriculture" (National Research Council, 1989). He said that the people who farmed 'alternatively' defied all conventional and modern practices, without any rationale explanations. But, he added, more power to them.
The 1980's were brutal on farms. We're still losing a lot of those 'farms in the middle' (few hundred acres). But farming is more than just another industrial cog in a global system-- it sustains our bodies and for some their souls.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson:
"Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth." Thomas Jefferson, c. 1781
"I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural." (TJ to James Madison, B.1787)
I think Jefferson may be a bit over the top. But there is an independence of body and spirit that comes from tending the crops and animals that feed ourselves and our neighbors. There is also the humbleness that comes from being at the mercy of the nature and the elements- hail, drought, and locusts.
Then there is the indignity and anger that comes from being at the mercy of a society that said to farmers "get big or get out." What good has that done us? Not as an industry, but as a society.
Almost a Farm...