Sunday, June 12, 2011

Real Farms

Ever notice how people are often down on happiness?

A small farm, under 40 acres, one that is sized to offer lots of puttering satisfaction in it's inhabitants, plenty of squeals of delight in the visiting children and grandchildren...that's called "a hobby farm"...the term REAL FARM is reserved for the white houses sitting on vast mown lawns surrounded by acres and acres and acres of some monocrop, and complete with large pole barns with big shiny tractors and other machinery in them.

Seems like "being happy" is something fools who can't make a living at farming do on small acreages...while "serious farmers" are the miserable meloncholics who grow subsidied grain on vast acreages alone, "cause this farm ain't big enough for the two of us..."
We respect the guy with the Big Truck and the shiny new pole barn. But the scrappy kid down the way with the animals and what not, well, I'm sure he's having fun.

I've developed my own criteria for a "real farm".

First and foremost, a real farm produces its own fertility.

Sounds simple. And it is. But its far too uncommon.

A real farm generates fertility, it doesn't buy it in. This means animals. When you are managing animals, you are managing grasses, you are managing manure. A closed circuit of renewable energy right there on the farm.

Second, a real farm is big enough to challenge the farmer each and every day of his life, to catupult him out of bed in the morning with a snap,crackle, and punch, muscles taught with the willing readiness to tackle a new enterprise, try out a new idea, conquer some vegetative foe...But it must also be small enough to keep him sane...not drive him out of his mind, or his home, empty him of heart or his bank account of money. In short: it must be human scaled, not machine scaled.

Third: It must be the kind of fertile seedbed for new enterprises, for the ideas and farm-based businesses of the next generation. It must pave the way for a place for the farmer's sons and must be a source of growth and inspiration for the youth...a nursery of dreams...not something they grow up to remember as a rack they were stretched on, when they are living in their city penthouses laughing sardonically at their days growing up "work work working on that dreary drudge of a farm..." If I had a nickle for every time someone has said to me "yeah, I grew up on a dairy farm...nope, don't miss it one bit."...

Fourth:It's got to be sustaining for the surrounding community, as well as for the farming family. Where to go for safe meat. Fresh produce. It must be a place for people in the city to come, renew themselves, support, get their hands dirty, invest in. No more the isolated country folks on their dusty backroads acreage posted all over with NO TRESPASSING signs. A real farm is a place of transparency, and regeneration. In its attempts to revitalize grasslands, build soil fertility, manage animals in a respectful and responsible manner, protect watersheds, prevent soil erosion, it must also allow itself to become a nucleus for true culture. A place where work and play coincide, and friendships and trust are built through every-day life and farm feasts.

The world is full of farms. Every business, be it Coca Cola, Walmart, or that Dairy Farm down the road farms people. Some businesses farm people for their money. A real farm farms people for their character.

So here's to those poor fools scrapping it out on their grubby little farms.

Here's to the real farmers.

God make me one.

1 comment:

  1. God listened! In my book you are that special Farmer and thanks for being that special human being! You are all special!
    Love, Aunt Shannon