A Fishy Baptism & The Last Day Bird Machine

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 28th, 2005

These two old stories were taken from the Centennial History of Missouri published in 1921.

The Dry Land Baptist

A pioneer in Callaway County was Thomas Kitchen. He attended the old Baptist church at Salem, of which his wife was member. He never joined the church because, as he explained to the members, he could not tell his experience, never having had any. He went by the description of the “dry land” Baptist for years, until one day he fell from the top of a mill Captain John Baker was building on Loutre creek. Kitchen dropped into the creek, killing a big catfish by the impact but sustaining no injury. After that he argued that he had been baptized and ought not to be called a dry land member of the church. He also enlarged his name to Thomas Jonah Kitchen, because he said that like Jonah of old he was saved by a fish.

Booneville’s “Last Day”

Millerites had obtained quite a following in Missouri as early as 1844. They predicted the “last day” of the world with confident definiteness. A comet of that year was interpreted as heralding the end of the world. Captain F.M. Posegate told in the St. Joseph News-Press some years ago his recollections, as a boy in Booneville, of the deep impression made upon the people when the last day fixed by the Millerites came: One man concluded he would make an effort to forestall the flying chariot in which the elect were to ascend to the presence of the Judge by using a flying machine, or bird machine as he styled it. He worked faithfully for weeks upon the contrivance and only a few days before the all-absorbing event was expected to materialize hauled it out onto a platform on top of his barn to give it a trial. At the first flop the machine fell to the ground, resulting in a broken neck for the man. To him the end of the world had come, the consolation to his relatives and friends being that he had at least escaped any possible suffering that the flames might inflict. At last the day upon which the prophesy was expected to culminate dawned—clear, soft, beautiful—typical of a old fashioned Missouri “Indian summer” day. (We do not seem to have such days now.) ‘Old Sol’ manifested no desire to hurry matters—the hours dragged slowly—the usual activities of everyday life seemed almost paralyzed, while a nervous uneasiness involving the entire community was apparent. As the sun, seemingly a glowing, flashing ball of fire, sank below the horizon and twilight began to shadow the earth, the suspense became almost unbearable and it would be idle to say that a feeling of doubt, of uncertainty, of unspeakable awe did not pervade the whole community. The head of the comet soon made its appearance and before its fleecy tail disappeared behind the western horizon, the moon, nearly at its full, was shedding its soft, silvery, steady light, rendering all things visible for miles around. Only one hour—sixty short minutes—remained during which the prophesy must materialize, if at all. The main street of the village was thronged with humanity—the believer, the unbeliever, the doubter and the scoffer. The elect, and there were many of them, arrayed in their ascension robes, stood joyously together all in readiness to be taken up. Suddenly, from out in the direction of Gibson’s hill, a spear of light harsher than that emitted by the moon sprang up. As it grew, spread, flared, no mortal pen could have given a fair idea of the silence that prevailed. No mortal artist could have painted the various expressions shown upon the countenances of individuals. Just at the moment when hope, joy, doubt, and fear were most strongly depicted a mounted messenger came clattering down Gibson hill. As he passed the Wyan residence, hat in hand, he yelled: ‘It is only an old haystack in Gibson’s outfield that is burning.’ All along the main street, from the brick house in which Todd and Loomis afterwards taught school to the Powel residence, overlooking the Missouri river, he proclaimed the message. With its close and the exhaustion of the fire from the haystack, the suspense ended; seemingly an audible sigh of relief rose from the souls of the overstrained throng of people who had so feverishly awaited the denouement. In the shortest time possible the streets were deserted and the little city was wrapped in a silence so profound as to be almost startling. It is a satisfaction to me now that I cannot recall a single instance where some thoughtless individual twitted a Millerite with the saying, old at that time, ‘I told you so.’ Neither do I remember to have heard any Millerite express any regret at the nonfulfillment of the prophesy.

I found the first story downright funny, though typical of “Christians” who, being zealous though scripturally ignorant, claim some of the most foolish things in the name of the Lord. The second is interesting to me particularly because of the lack of regret by the Millerites when their certain prophesy of the last day did not happen. It shouldn’t surprise us, as it seems that Christians in every generation have no problem with the false prophets and prophesies they foist on all. They are so certain that they are right that the stacking scriptural evidence against them means nothing, as is the case with those who swear by their secular and Christian prophets that our debt-based, usurious economic system is blessed of God. This story is also a case of scripturally ignorant foolishness, though it’s not nearly as humorous, in my opinion, because it bears witness to the apostasy that has been overtaking our nation for many generations, which is no laughing matter. The Missouri Rev

Sell That Last Team!

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 23rd, 2005

My fellow bloggers, being new at this thing called blogging, I haven’t learned how often to post. I can’t help wonder if posting too much or too quickly causes some of the posts to be skipped over or not commented on. What is your experience on this?

The piece that follows my musings appeared in the 1946 Suffolk Bulletin, which I got from the book, The Draft Horse Primer (the bolding is mine for emphasis). The writer was an experienced draft-horse farmer from New Jersey that was a leader in Suffolk horse breeding. His piece was written in response to an article in Farm Journal by True Morse of Doane’s Agricultural Services that called for farmers to “sell that last team” and move into the more efficient and profitable technology of internal combustion tractors and related machinery. The author had a keen sense of wisdom and was able to fairly accurately predict, in noted frustration and sorrow, the downfall of the American “family-sized” farm. Though not put in these words, he recognized in the booming days following WWII that the scale of farming in America had been dramatically altered — through technology born of debt-based economics — from family-sized to something far bigger that could only be profitable if one “invested in” and utilized the “larger power units” produced through corporate industrialism, which, on top of equipment payments, required the farmer to constantly pay cash out of his own pocket for gas, oil, repairs, and replacement. History has clearly shown that this caused the overwhelming majority of family-sized farmers to throw in the towel or regress from being self-sustained producers to consumers and sustaining cogs of industrialized agribusiness, for which the vast majority ultimately ended in bankruptcy. He succumbed to the handwriting on the wall, as he felt that under “current conditions” he could not afford to work horses and be competitive. If only he could have laid hold of a copy of You Can Farm. Read it and weep.

My reason to publish this was not to beat the drum of a “back to Eden” technophobe who hates all technology, as I am certainly not — else I would be writing this on the back of elm bark with a turkey feather dipped in the ink made from blackberries and sending it to you via carrier pigeon or the Pony Express. But rather to recognize the scale and technology of God’s wonderful creation and to help promote for consideration and discussion two interrelated elements of biblical sustainable agriculture: first, the use of God’s creation technology in farming, as Joel Salatin has done so well in working his land with the labor and (God-ordained) biological processes of beef, poultry, turkeys, rabbits, pigs, etc.; and second, the creation and use of human technology that complements the Lord’s creation both in scale and purpose, according to His Word. A third area naturally arises from this discussion and that is the synergy that is developed between God’s creation and man’s creation (under Him), as in the example of a man that works a team of draft horses hitched to a harrow or other manmade machinery.

Being just an enthusiastic student and quasi-journalist of biblical agrarianism and not a “frontlines” farmer, as some of you are, I readily admit that I speak from learning and not from experience, at least thus far, though a shepherd “worth his salt” can hardly lead the charge in taking dominion through biblical agrarianism without getting his fingers dirty, brow sweaty, and boots caked in the black gold of cow manure . . . Lord willing. I look forward to the comments of one and all, and especially of seasoned veterans of sustainable agriculture. The Missouri Rev

—- As I gave up the use of the horse with greatest reluctance, I have examined my reasons for doing so very carefully and feel I can give all the answers as to why they cannot be used with some authority. But there are still serious questions in my mind.

Consider, first, the investment in power machinery as compared to horse-drawn machinery. Last winter, when offering to sell some of my useless equipment, I went back through the records to determine what I had paid for some of it. It now costs about as much for a single tire for a tractor as it cost for a sulky corn cultivator about eight years ago. One could then equip an entire farm for what a tractor and cultivator now cost. Can farming support such an investment?

Consider the size of farm needed to utilize the larger power units such as the field harvester, the pick-up baler, and the combine. I find one of each adequate for the operation of my large unit. Custom work has proven unsatisfactory in most cases. Can the American farmer work out a plan for joint neighbor ownership of this equipment or does this spell the end of the family-sized farm?

Consider the cost of upkeep. Mr. Morse gives figures for the cost of keeping a team, the income from the extra cows, and cost of operating a tractor. Will the income from the cow stay where it is now? Can we overlook the fact that the cost of keeping a team is largely money paid back to oneself for hay, oats, and labor, while the cost of operating a tractor is cash out of pocket for gas, oil, repairs, and replacement?

Consider also the broad economic aspects of the problem. Should the day come when the farmer is again faced with ruinous surpluses, will these not be much greater than they were when the acres that went to feeding horses will grow crops to sell? And what of our dwindling natural resources of petroleum? Will we eventually raise crops that are sold to be processed into fuel, to be repurchased by us to burn in our own tractors, where we now have available a hay-burner of our own?

Under present conditions, I cannot afford to work horses. But the change from horse to tractor farming is a profound change. As a result the farmer will lose a measure of his independence; his fate will be more closely linked to the strength and effectiveness of organized labor; the family-sized farm may be the next aspect of rural life to be found obsolete and uneconomical.—-

A Delightful Musing about Sorghum

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 22nd, 2005

Now that you have had enough of my dreadfully long musings, I though I’d give you a real treat from Ray County Missouri’s past. This delightful story about sorghum was written by W. D. McKee, a good Scotsman and noted farmer, lecturer, and author from the 1930’s, who was the proprietor many years ago of the Alfalfa Blossom Farm northwest of Knoxville township (a few miles from where I live). Enjoy the country humor and consider what it meant to be blessed on the land as the Lord’s “poor folk” in a time not so long ago.

The other night, while enjoying the comfort of a good 1930 fireside, when the cold wind was howling without, my mind went back to my boyhood days on the farm in Knoxville township, Ray County, Missouri! In my musings (or dreams), I glimpsed of the multitude of good things we had to eat – that we old-timers thought at the time were exceedingly common food for poor people and considered by the rich (or well-to-do) as belonging to the same class or category with the husks eaten by the prodigal son while acting in the capacity of a herder of swine.

Among these old familiar faces that we had to greet three times a day was the bowl of sorghum molasses (now called “sirrup,” sometimes). This caused my memory to sneak back along the sorghum route – and, before I had traveled very far, I changed my mind as to this one article in our menu being a food for the poor and the poor only – that it was good enough for the bontonous and gothomites dwelling in brown stone mansions.

Let us from childhood’s memory page read from the list written on sheets of silver, in letters of gold, as follows:

Ginger-bread, that put pep and fire in our early school life. Molasses cookies, like mother used to make, large as a dinner plate and palatable from center to circumference—and from circumference back to center again.

“Twisters”—long rolls of sweetened dough, made into a rope and twisted—no baker, however, skilled, able to fashion a doughnut half so delicious. No hole to plague the poor pessimist. “The difference between the optimist and the pessimist is “DROLE”—the optimist sees the doughnut. The pessimist sees the “HOLE.” These palatable, melt-in-the mouth, hole-less fried twisters would have saved the poor old lady’s mind, who grieved herself blind because she could not eat the hole in the doughnut.

Buckwheat cakes, made of buckwheat sown on the stony patch or in the orchard for bee pasture. The bees gleaned (from the blossoms) nectar to be stored in the six-sided cells, to be spread by the farmer and his good wife and children—yet it is common knowledge known by all men that even this delectable viand (choicest of honey) never had a look-in as long as one golden drop of sorghum “LAS-SES” lasted.

Hot, fluffy, five and ten stories high, biscuits with home-made meadow gold butter oozing out at every pore, crying piteously for the good old home sweetening to come and join in making this wonderful tripod of good things complete and further tickle the palate.

And now, waffles with their deep grooves and checkered corrugations made to hold oodles of this incomparable saccharine fluid, drawn from the inexhaustible supply in the cellar, made the farm a place to live and enjoy life away out in the big out-of-doors. . .

Every year a local club of horse team farmers sow a field of sorghum near my home here and then in the fall, using the same teams of horses, operate the presses that squeeze out the sweet sorghum juice, which they boil down in huge stainless steel “boxes” until they produce the golden “sirrup” described by this author. It’s strong stuff and takes time to develop a taste for it. I will publish from time to time more musings from this author as he continues this great story from his agrarian days as a rural Missourian.

The Amish Repent from their Retreat

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 22nd, 2005

(There is likely to be some spelling and grammatical errors in this musing of mine, as I penned it on the fly while I had a few spare minutes to do it. Sorry, the Missouri Rev)

In one community it appears the Amish are repenting from their long-held worldview of cultural retreat and pacifism. According to an Associated Press article, it looks as if difficult economic factors have driven the Amish in Middleton, Ohio, the fourth largest settlement in the world, to take a rare step of entering the public square to fight for the right to conduct business as they feel led. Contrary to their doctrine, which one of them articulated in the article, “There’s three words that I don’t like: court, suing, judge. It’s not scriptural to sue someone,” they have filed lawsuit to get the zoning laws changed which forbid them to build business facilities larger than 1000 sq ft. Not surprisingly, given the ever increasing encroachment and takeover of land and agricultural production by corporate agribusiness funded by the world’s moneychangers, the small family farms of many of the Amish are no longer profitable. There are other factors also involved in their failing profitability, including debt and famial breakdown, but this is a big one that is slowly devouring all of us. As it is in the case of the Amish here, is it not amazing how a people’s religious practices can change by the difficult circumstances God brings His people and I, for one, am glad to see the Amish turn this small corner. Perhaps we should take a lesson from this and examine where we have compromised or retreated from pressing the Crown Rights of King Jesus within the culture we live?

Of course many of us have experienced or seen the lack of justice within our pagan court system, which, like the Amish, many of us do not like, but to say that the use of courts, lawsuits, and judges by the believer is unscriptural is typical of the Amish antinomian legalism behind their retreatist worldview. Now that their legalism is failing, which is inevitable and a good thing, maybe they will turn the corner and start to live by the Law of King Jesus, whom they profess. After all, they, like all believers, do the King’s kingdom (governmental) business on a daily basis as they worship and obey the King, Jesus Christ.

All true believers in Christ, having been justified by His blood, have lawful standing before His court bench, that is, His throne of grace, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father. It is here before His mercy seat, the court bench of His justice and mercy, that the believer, by faith, petitions Him in prayer, seeks redress, seeks His interceding advocacy, and seeks grace and wisdom for the duties He has called them to do as His people. More so, in fulfilling Christ’s mandate that the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, the Church militant, commissioned and empowered as vicegerents of King Jesus by the Great Commission, is to make disciples of the world and teach them to obey all His commandments, which, when accomplished, establishes His rightful authority on the earth as its Supreme Sovereign. This seat of Christ’s authority on earth within His Church is a lawful one, that is, it operates by His law, which is why we can confidently go to Him in prayer because He is faithful to keep the Everlasting (New) Covenant with His people in enforcing His law on their behalf. Unlike fallen man’s top down, tyrannical governmental structure, Christ’s earthly authority is established from the ground up and locally — in regenerating the believer first and causing him (her) to walk in the Spirit in obeying His law written on their hearts, who then function as members of a family within the locally covenanted congregation, which together comprise the local Christian community, by which other realms of earthly authority, civil & economic (to name a few primary ones), are established under Christ. This is the true biblical foundation for earthly authority that establishes national liberty and God-blessed prosperity. The entire chain of Christ’s authority on earth involves judges and courts at all its various levels, though not like the pompous priests of modern pagan law that rule unrighteously, as we saw in the dreadful case of Terri Schaivo. The unbiblical, pacifist notion that God’s people are to stay out of the earthly governmental things of the world because they are unscriptural is an open denial of Christ’s present authority over Heaven and earth and the Church’s calling to exercise His delegated authority as His vicegerents. No, it’s not the use of courts, judges, and suits by the believer that is the problem, but whose courts, judges, and suits, and by what standard?

It is within this framework of Christian community built upon godly civil and ecclesiastical government that we can understand the words of Paul in 1Corinthians 6:

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (v 1-3).

Far from a mandate that prohibits believers from using courts, lawsuits, and judges, it’s a rebuke against believers that use the lawless justice system of the unbeliever, rather than the rightful one established by Christ within His Civil Body Politic (Ecclesia), the Church. The Bible commands that the Lord’s people are to judge matters pertaining to this life by establishing godly courts, ecclesiastical and civil (to maintain the biblical separation of powers), to effect justice and mercy throughout the various levels of a Christian society. This was the case in the early days of the American colonies when they had, for the most part, godly government at all levels of American culture. Today, we live in captivity under a wicked pagan government, which is no fault of the Lord or the Devil. Long ago the American churches abandoned the law of the Lord in adopting the secular law of the heathen around them or in creating their own legalism, as was the case with the Amish. In so doing, the biblical civil and ecclesiastical justice systems of the Church that protected their lives, liberty, and property were destroyed, leaving us where we are today and rightfully so, I might add. And for the Church to pragmatically seek protection from the state through making various corporate covenants with it, though it may give temporary aid and comfort, only adds to the growing disobedience of God’s people in unequally yoking to the unbeleiver in direct violation of God’s Word.

We live in the exact same circumstances that the children of Israel did when they confessed the truth concerning their dreadful circumstances under captivity and the reason behind it, their own covenant breaking:

However You are just in all that has befallen us; For You have dealt faithfully, But we have done wickedly.
Neither our kings nor our princes, Our priests nor our fathers, Have kept Your law, Nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, With which You testified against them. For they have not served You in their kingdom, Or in the many good things that You gave them, Or in the large and rich land which You set before them; Nor did they turn from their wicked works. “Here we are, servants [ebed – slaves] today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, To eat its fruit and its bounty, Here we are, servants in it! And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, Because of our sins; Also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle At their pleasure; And we are in great distress. Nehemiah 9:33-37

This is easily paraphrased to fit the circumstances of our present captivity: However, You are just in all that has come upon us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly. Neither our elected officials nor our judges, our ministers (pastors, elders, etc) nor our fathers, have kept Your law, nor heeded your commandments and your testimonies, with which You testified against them. For they have not served You in the republic you gave them, or in the many good things that You gave them, or in the large and rich land which You set before them; nor did they turn from their wicked works. “Here we are, slaves today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, to eat its fruit and its bounty, here we are, slaves in it! And it yields much increase to the wicked civil and economic authorities You have set over us, because of our sins; also they have dominion over our labor and our wealth, at their pleasure; and we are in great distress. Whether they admit or not or even can see it, this is where all believers are today in our nation, no matter where they live, be it in isolated communities like the Amish or unequally yoked within the communities and cities of our pagan captors that dominate our nation.

It was only a matter of time before the veneer of cultural isolation that the Amish live behind would thin down to the point where their very way of life was directly threatened. It is going to get far worse for them as well as for all believers. Being in captivity, without the protection of lawfully established Christian government and justice system, makes it very difficult to survive day to day, let alone to function biblically in obeying God. I think all of us are growing increasingly aware of the predicament that God has brought us under in letting us eat the fruit of our secular ways. The good news is that God does not suffer His people to stay in captivity forever; He will finish His judgments and rightfully restore them as the head of all culture.

In His wonderful mercy, God does make provision for His people in the dire circumstances of biblical captivity, as we see in the life of Daniel and other faithful believers that triumphed during times of captivity. Daniel actually served in the civil courts of his wicked captors, who were eventually destroyed by God. Imagine that! We must never forget that absolutely everything the wicked possess — authority, land, wealth, yeah their very lives — is the Lord’s and given to them to serve His purposes, not theirs. When the righteous live righteously the Lord turns over to them the wealth of the wicked so that it can also come under the lawful and righteous stewardship of His people. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22) But when the righteous live wickedly, as it has been for many generations in our nation, the Lord turns them over to the wicked to be plundered until they repent . . . or, as history also has shown, until they die. How long must we be plundered through debt-based economics and government theft before we get the real picture of our rebellion to God in robbing Him of our covenantal faithfulness in obeying and serving Him in His Kingdom?

Under our present captivity we will have to take dominion wherever God, by His providence and grace, gives us a place to do so. But do so we must, and it will be very difficult and fraught with many trials and costly sacrifices. For the Amish this has meant taking a stand and entering the public square to fight for their God-given rights to provide for their families in keeping covenant with Him, which is no small thing for them. Have they violated Paul’s mandate in seeking redress in the courts of the heathen? No, for in their case as ours, there are no godly courts of the righteous to speak of and so we must seek redress where God has established authority, like Paul did in seeking an appeal before Caesar. For the Amish, however, it is going to take far, far more than this, but this is a beginning for them . . . I hope. The same applies to all who name the Lord. Ultimately, all true believers face a huge battle with the heathen around them in taking back the dominion they are called to exercise on Christ’s behalf, but rightfully forfeited because of their generational disobedience. Biblical history has shown that for all those that name the Lord it comes down to this: obey God or be judged and replaced by those who will. We need to examine ourselves as to whether we are the remnant that will turn to the Lord in repentance and obedience in coming out of captivity or whether we are one of the blind majority that remain in Babylon because we like the lifestyle and security it provides better than the Law of God and His courts. We are at these crossroads right now!

History has clearly proven that the heathen in power will not let go easily, but will fight tenaciously to keep thier hold until their end rightfully comes. Thank God our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual to the bringing down of every stronghold, both within and without the believer. Even so, come Lord Jesus and bring the apostasy and disobedience of your people to an end, so they can retake Your land and steward it to Your glory. Perhaps the Amish will repent from their generational retreat, will the rest of us that name the Lord do the same?

The Heart of Biblical Agrarianism – HTM Version

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 18th, 2005

Fellow bloggers, since it has been difficult for some of you to open the pdf version of the article mentioned in the previous posting, for which I apologize, I have posted it as a standard HTM file, which your Internet browser should open automatically. I hope that helps. Here is the new link:
http://datavisionservices.com/Articles/HBA4.htm

The Heart of Biblical Agrarianism

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 17th, 2005

Greetings one and all. Because this post is comprised of an article I wrote entitled, The Heart of Biblical Agrarianism, which is eleven pages in length, I thought it wise to give you a link to it, rather than paste it into the confined window of my blogging template.

Here is the link:

The Heart of Biblical Agrarianism.

It is in a PDF format, as I believe most people on the Internet these days can open PDF documents. If you do not have the software to open it, you can download it for free at this site: Adobe Reader Download: all versions

I strongly believe that if we do not understand the biblical foundations and basis behind the actions we take in God’s name, we start out on the wrong foot which leads to frustration and failure for we labor in vain if the Lord does not the build the house. Returning to true biblical agrarianism, even by God’s grace and leading, is no easy task, as many bloggers who are doing it can testify. This is why I greatly appreciate Scott Terry’s blog and other like-minded ones. It thus behooves us to understand the scope of the task God has set before us and His laws which are to govern it. This is especially true when it comes to stewarding the land God has given us while establishing godly inheritances by which we can sustain a generational continuity blessed of Him. This is all the more vital, given the rapidly deteriorating condition of our nation today. Thanks for dropping in, sorry it took a while to get this posted. There is more coming soon.

The Reluctant Blogger

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 7th, 2005

Alas, the reluctant blogger has finally published for the first time to the Rural Missourian, such as it is. From the number of bloggers that take vacations from blogging, I can see that it’s going to take a fair amount of time to keep up on it. We’ll see how long I last. Most of you know me through my preaching, the lengthy e-mail commentaries I send out from time to time, or the comments I make on other blogs. Welcome all!

Yesterday noon, I went with my wife Carmen and daughter Susan to glean the field of a local truck farmer close to where we live. He grows tomatoes, squash, beans, cantaloupe, watermelon, and other vegetables. With the first freeze coming on I contacted the farmer and got his permission to glean before the frost would destroy what produce was left, which was actually considerable. As the tomatoes that remain were “the wrong size and shape to sell,” I could take all I wanted, as he had finished with them about two weeks earlier. I was stunned. There were easily 50,000 abandoned ripe tomatoes, the vast majority of which were rotting. We were able to harvest about 100 lbs of good tomatoes, which are quite delicious and well worth the hour’s sweat. Susan made a wonderful “fresh” tomato soup last night; it really hit the spot with the cold weather and all. We were also permitted to glean a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash, as the farmer was planning on coming that afternoon to make a final harvest. Even here there were thousands of cut squash left to rot because they were the “wrong size.” We are most grateful that he allowed us to glean his land; he certainly could have said no, especially with all of the lawsuits these days.

Now I am not a farmer (at least for now) but I know that there is going to be a certain amount of produce that goes unharvested and will eventually be plowed under, but this seems a bit wasteful, at least from the view of making a living as a farmer. There are cheaper ways to manure the soil than to plow under produce that took a lot of labor and money to bring to maturity. I realize the great global market has “standards” – in size, shape, and color – which the farmer must comply with to get his market share. The way I see it though, he has greatly limited himself catering to any market as simply a produce salesman. If he were to add value to what he grows by his own labor he could produce may products which could use the “non standard” produce left abandoned. Think of the delicious salsa he could have made with the 50,000 tomatoes. Having been in various businesses throughout the years, I also recognize he must have a market for the salsa in order to sell it, but this is where the tire meets the soil, so-to-speak, where one develops his markets first and then provides the various products for it.

On another note, I visited the other day with a retired farmer and his wife who live just down the road. Though I have permission to hunt on their land, I always check in every now and then just to see how they are doing. Besides, there is such a wealth of wisdom to be gained every time I visit them. He is 92 and she is 91. In musing about his farming days he shared a humorous story with me. Until he purchased his first tractor in 1944, he had been, like his father, farming with a team of horses. The day he bought his tractor and plow he took them into the field behind his house to give them a try. He just got started when the plow stuck on something and released itself, wherein he shouted at the top of his lungs WHOA!! He said it didn’t take but a second to realize what he did, wherein he looked around sheepishly to see if anyone heard him give verbal orders to his tractor.

After a good laugh, he hesitated for a long quiet moment while musing upon those days before stating that by and far the hardest thing he ever did as a farmer was to sell his beloved team of horses, for he knew that they went to meat (the dog food cannery), even though he sold them to a neighbor who wasn’t directly in this business. Tens of thousands of well bred, well trained horses and mules went to the cannery during the days when our nation transitioned to tractors. Decades later and many thousands of dollars in debt with little profit and satisfaction left in farming, many of these farmers regret having left the simplicity of the small farm they once worked with joy.

His son, a farmer, who also delivers mail full time and runs a part time saw mill to make ends meet, told me that he no longer has any heart to farm, so he will likely hang unto the mail job as long as he can to keep his benefits until he retires and then just run the saw mill. Meanwhile, his son, a full time farmer, comes into the house to show his grandfather the hames of the harness from his great grandfather’s team that he is restoring so he can display them on his living room wall. The grandson’s wife is a little perturbed about this whole endeavor since he has been delaying putting their expensive combine into their fields to do the harvesting of the year’s corn and soybeans. He then reminds her that the fields are still too muddy for his behemoth machine. Before leaving to go work on an enormous piece of farm machinery the grandson proudly mentioned that he just built a new door for one of their sheds from their own lumber, which he cut and milled. On this door he attached a small placard he carved that has on it the name of the family farm and its founding date, 1854. Boy, we sure have come a long way haven’t we?