Breathers and Better Farming

BREATHERS: Let’s talk about staying put.  Some of what farming has always been and is, is staying put.  Creating an ongoing relationship with the land and what grows here.  Which still shouldn’t feel like a life sentence.  Doesn’t mean you can’t invent an off-season for yourself, take advantage of the winter, go somewhere else and do something else, even try being someone else for a change, for refreshment.  Doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a little time between one harvest and another, one season and the next.  But the place needs an eye on things, an eye in the moment as well as an eye to the future—which suggests cultivating good neighbors or family who can trade off chores during slack times, take turns giving each other that breather. – PH

BACK TO THE WORK: Though less than perhaps at any time in modern history, mastery of a craft, of a handmade skill-set, of a human way of working, of an art form is still valued by society. To be a masterful farmer, or musician, or carpenter, or writer, or … is, by consequential effect, to be a positive contributor to the future of all humanity. And it is an accomplishment to be earned over a lifetime of devotion to the requirements of that craft; routines, rituals, menus, formulas, procedures and ever-unfolding spectrums of possibilities for adventure and innovation – it all goes together to make for that farmer/artist a seamless union with the work. – LRM

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape—the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” –Andrew Wyeth


“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” –Victor Hugo


MECHANICAL BLATHER: You know why fire trucks are so loud? Because you don’t sneak up on a fire. Everybody wants to hear you coming, and is glad to get out of the way. Unlike farming, which benefits from a certain quiet. Why? Because it is a natural process, not a machine process. Because the birds picking their weight in insects every day are easily frightened off their beneficial task. Because the livestock are calmer, less harried, give better milk, put on weight. Because you want to be able to hear the mail carrier coming or the call for lunch a good half a mile off. Because you love the tearing sound of earth turned by a plow. Because you can hear what you’re thinking, without that mechanical blather. –PH