Monday, October 24, 2005

Blood, Sweat and Tears

One of the most common criticisms of the Agrarian Bloggers is that we paint to rosey a picture of the farm life. Although I think we try to paint a balanced picture, I thought I would take a stab at explaining some agrarian realities that some might not think of as "rosey". I would argue however, that these realities are are only "not rosey" to those who live inside the industrial box. Though they may be painful at the moment, they are but a small part of much bigger good. This said, farming is the product of blood, sweat and tears.


Farming is dangerous. We work long hours, with animals and machinery. That can be hazardous to our health. The battle to subdue the earth and replenish it, is not a fight for those who can not stand to lose a little blood. Before you take up the rockin' chair, you will lose literal gallons of this liquid. Most of your bleeding will be a product of carelessness and stupidity. Its been true with me, anyway. I've always joked that if I came in the barn carrying my left arm, my Dad would say "Darn it Scott......You've got to more careful." In his defense, the second statement would be "are you alright?". Be carefully out there, this is dangerous work.


The modern world has shielded most folks from hard work. Some see this as progress. I feel sorry for people who have never felt the satisfaction of working until it hurts. A job well done should be followed by a feeling of tiredness. Its not uncommon for us to work 14- 16 hour days during busy spells. Much of the work on small land holding is very laborious. There will be days that you want to die, days you think that you can't throw another bale of hay but know there are 400 more to go before milking time starts. The farmer earns his living by the literal sweat of his brow. The old pictures of the farmer sleeping under a tree, surrounded by a lovely garden and content cows grazing the hill side is often misinterpreted. He's sleeping under the tree because he couldn't make it to the house! If you want to farm and return to the simple life because you think its a life of ease, you best stay at the office-lest you be disappointed.


We write often about the emotional highs of farming. They are not embellished or made up, they are real. Just as real though are the lows. The economy the way it is, keeps us cash poor. Many nights are spent going over the books wondering how in the world you are going to make it throught the next month. The animals that you love and care for die. Folks who don't spend vast amounts of time with animals probably think the death of one is "not a big deal". I believe that God gives those who he gives the privilege of husbandry, a special love for the creation that they are caring for. It grieves the cattleman to see a cow suffer. Famers have deep compassion for the animals in their care and I have shed tears over the loss livestock. Farming is full of emotional hardships that test our faith. Watching your crops die, despite all your work and care can be devastating. All this hardship and tears works for good, as all things God sends our way. For the Christian, these hardships are faith builders. There is some truth to the old saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". I think C.H. Spurgeon put it best....

Faith which is daily tried, and tried all the day long, has a fair opportunity of becoming unusually strong, and hence our agricultural Christians ought to be the strongest believers in the land. They have not of late been indulged with much temporal prosperity, but our hope is that a succession of adversities may have driven them to set less store by the world, to look more eagerly for the better portion, and to leave all things more believingly in the Lord's hands. This will be good out of evil beyond all question, and such good we ought to look for. Sharp discipline should by this time have made good soldiers of our yeomanry. If it be so, the failing purse is more than recompensed by the enlarged heart: if our farmers are wiser men through their bad seasons, that will be better than being richer men.


At 10/24/2005 6:27 AM, Blogger KSmilkmaid said...

Awesome post Scott!! We must be thinking along the same lines today. I just posted on the sweat of the brow and tears shed by Brian.

It is good to hear how you handle loss. I bawled and bawled the day Sophie died. She was a valentines present to me from Brian. She was eight weeks old when we got her. We only had her for five years. We are still not sure what happened. We had the vet out and everything. She was a grandchampion cow at the fair and gave us a few great daughters to remember her by. Man, it is tough losing a cow.

We also lost a calf. It was stillborn, registered none the less. One of our second registered born on our place. I tried everything to save her, but she was dead far before she was born. Many times I have pulled calves and helped out saving this one or that. I recongized my limits. I am not God the giver and orchestrator of life. If only corporate farms could understand this. They continue to play God with their clones, GMOs etc. They have such little regard for the cows buring them out on GBHr

Excellent post!

At 10/24/2005 6:29 AM, Blogger KSmilkmaid said...

oops i think thats BGH? the growth know what I mean.

At 10/24/2005 12:00 PM, Blogger TNfarmgirl said...

Wonderful post Scott! There is truth in all you say. I can't tell you how many times we have cried over an animal's death.
We lost our miik cow once - it was horrible - we sat with her in the field and cried like babies....

When in time did hard labor become so looked down upon?
We feel that what we do is honorable but in the world's eyes ....quite another story!

Thanks for painting such a truthful picture!

At 10/24/2005 5:03 PM, Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

Blood, Sweat & Tears, yes, but at least we don't have to pay those dang rediculous health club fees!

At 10/24/2005 6:14 PM, Blogger Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Scott,

I think this is the best Blog entry you have ever written.

I'm glad your vacation from blogging did not last long!


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