Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What is a farmer?

What is a farmer?

The sun awakens to find the farmer already busy.  Never a shortage of things to do, his day starts early.  Awakened not by the sun's rays but by the mere promise of them, and a chance to spend another day laboring under the baking warmth of that sun or the blistering cold of of the clouds.  Weather is everything, and nothing.  Every day starts and ends the same, whether it is a beautiful fall day, a blistering summer day, or a white wintery day. Weather .... to be respected, used, watched, enjoyed, and endured, but whatever the case, the farm's day is the same. 

There are no vacations for the farmer... no days off, no weekends, no appointed breaks, not even sick days. The plants and animals under the farmer's charge are just as demanding  each day as the one before.  It matters not what else is happening in the farmer's life, the farm demands its routine day in and day out. Life continues in a never ceasing rhythm, oblivious to everything else in the world. 

Yet the farmer sings, or at least his heart does, as he trudges through the mud, snow, or dry heat.  His heart is full of appreciation and despair, celebration and concern. Studying each tiny insignificant spark of life on his land, the farmer is aware of all, and appreciative of everything. The fluttering of a leave across the pasture, the dance of a bug on the ground, the deafening silence of the sprouts emerging from dead ground... It is a symphony that the farmer enjoys every day as he manages and serves.  Life is everywhere, brilliant and demanding. Giving and needing.  Yes, the farmer sings... but not his own song, he sings along with the tune of nature, of life, of everything. 

The farmer stops to be veterinarian to a wounded animal in his care... patching, treating, loving.  Then off to be botanist, zookeeper, chemist, biologist, physicist, geneticist and lets not forget general laborer shoveling manure.  What does he do ?  He does everything... and yet nothing.  Nature is the author, the lowly farmer is just the manager. It continues with him or without him.  He does not create... but only molds, influences, serves. The breath of his responsibilities are both wide and deep. There are no colleagues to ask opinions of, no supervisor to seek direction from, no team to seek council from.  He is alone...  and yet he is not. For inside the farmer lies the spark of the Creator Himself, the wisdom of the ages, hidden beneath layers of knowledge and guessing but it is there... driving his decisions in the general direction of success amidsts all the mistakes and failures. 

Before the day ends, the farmer plays the roles of businessman, setting prices, evaluating competition, managing a list of government regulation longer than the day,   customer service, retail management, advertising, marketing, packaging... the hat he wears keeps spinning to a new title. There is no specialty, no major, no  specific talent.. the farmer must be proficient in life itself, in  all aspects of it, to succeed. He is a marvel of knowing everything while knowing nothing.  Gut instincts drive everything forward, the thing no school can produce,  silent inspiration so deep it is within his soul. 

He contemplates those that live off his efforts. Those children, elderly, the familes that rely on his expertise to bring life to their table.  He scratches at the dirt he owns, no ... that he works, for no one owns the earth but the creator,  he scratches at the dirt to inspect the life that lies within. Worms, bugs, bacteria, fungus, things too small to see, to numerous to count, and too varied to be known.  The elements of life may not have names yet, or he may not know them, but he knows they are there. He manges the balance of the life forms , he plays the role of god in providing a world for this microscopic land of things we know so little about, yet depend on for health. 

As the sun sets, he stops for a moment to watch and respect the passing of another day. His eyes gaze over his land under the inexplicable beauty of the setting sun. His animals, his crops, his world... breathing in the peace of a job well done and the anxiety of a job left undone.  His eyes close and he tests the aroma of the wind as it passed judgment on his efforts of the day.  Has nature approved of his work? Has the world improved today because of his contribution? It is all in the wind... as the day ends. He listens to the sounds of quiet... of peace... of completion. The continual circle of life.. days, nights, births, deaths,  rain, dry, cold, hot... He listens... to find his place in the world. 

What is a farmer?  He is everything, and yet nothing.  He is invisible but yet he is on every table he serves. His labors go unnoticed but also they thrive within the bodies of the next generation raised on his food.  He is the glue that binds each generation to the next.. enabling the circle of life to be complete.   

He is a farmer.... a tired, energetic, joyful, worried, anxious, content, farmer.  As his head hits the pillow, he is at peace with the world, with nature and with his creator. One more day is done. 

Yes indeed... What is a farmer?

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