Don’t Expect A Farmer To Tell You How Good Things Are

The grass is so green and lush right now.  The days are approaching ninety degrees already in north Georgia and the grass has absolutely taken off.  It was such a mild winter that we have had outstanding ryegrass growth since February and we had to feed very little hay so are barns are still well stocked with round bales.  But now I have to stop bragging about the good fortune because every farmer knows that is asking for trouble.

Most southern farmers I know are god-fearing Christians that believe in Jesus Christ as savior and the sacrifices He made for us.  But there seems to be a strange conflict of forces at work when it comes to farming.  Well, you’ve got to believe in the devil too.  It is fairly often that you hear the words “why did this happen to me?” or “how could God let this happen?”  My husband is a deeply spiritual man and his thoughts on the subject of God are very valuable to me.  He once told me that he didn’t believe a bad incident had “happened for a reason” as we so often say when trying to deal with misunderstanding in grief.  When I asked him why it happened then, all he could say was, “I don’t know.”

And that’s the crux of it.  We don’t know why or how things happen.  We can analyze things, pray about them, research them until the cows come home (intentional pun).  This is something that farmers know all too well.  They work hard everyday to do the best they can but external factors determine much more than one lowly farmer ever will.  And so farmers do not tempt the forces at play with optimistic comments or contented attitudes.  Perhaps that is a lesson learned from The Grasshopper and the Ant fable of childhood.  The grasshopper was content to sing away the warm months while the ant worked hard to store up food for the winter.  When winter came the grasshopper was cold and hungry.  The moral we were taught was that it is wise to worry about tomorrow today.

I have also been taught that worrying is not a Christian behavior.  We are to trust God in everything.  It is such an internal conflict to be grateful for what we have and to desire more at the same time.  Of course we want more green, lush grass throughout this spring and summer and into the fall.  But we are afraid that if we desire too much that it will be taken from us.  After all, coveting is a sin as well.

The experienced farmer does not get caught up in the beauty of today.  He is constantly planning for tomorrow.  Working to plan ahead for the possibility of drought.  Hustling into the hayfields as soon as the grass is ready and the weather is right.  Mowing, raking and baling until dark.  Waste not, want not.  It would be such a shame to let this abundant growth go to waste.  The farmer wants to capture it and store it for those lean times that are surely just around the corner.  Yes, it is important work that the ant does but in the end of the story that is all the ant has:  his hard work, his shelter and his food.  He does not let the grasshopper in.  He holes up for the winter by himself, rationing out his supply and planning for his next season of work–all by himself.  So what kind of life lesson is that fable, really?  As with most fables’ morals, it is an incomplete, one-sided life lesson.  After all, where are the morals of charity, compassion, love, and gratefulness for blessings?  So the moral of this post:  please don’t forget to stop and “smell the roses” while you are preparing for tomorrow.

We must live for and enjoy today and plan for tomorrow.  We all know that but it is not as easy to live it.  We let our fears keep us from truly experiencing the grandeur around us.  I will not mourn the loss of this spring while the grass is still thick and deeply green.  Instead, I will admire it, touch it, watch my child play in it and take photographs of it.  I will stand in awe at the nourishment it is providing to the cattle that graze it; watch the fat new mothers and their precocious calves as they lope knee-deep through the pastures.  But I am not the farmer.  In reality I am but an outsider.  My perspective is not skewed by the daily drudgery of tasks that the farmers must complete day in and day out.  I am not responsible for the budgeting of the farm enterprise.  I am a blessed bystander.

Do not expect a farmer to talk about how good things are right now.  Instead, you will hear him say that we can expect a dry, hot summer.  And that it is time to start baling hay because surely we will be feeding it before fall arrives.  The farmer cannot take time to wax poetic on the beauty of this spring just as the ant cannot stop to sing with the grasshopper.  Oh, but how I would love for him to spare just one dance for me.