Monday, December 20, 2010

The Future of Forestry ... Or Farming

"How will the legend of the age of trees
Feel, when the last tree falls in England?
When the concrete spreads and the town conquers
The country’s heart..."

Oddly enough this is not the first time that I have mentioned a poem on my blog (I actually love poetry when my mood is right). In fact not only have I shared poetry more than once, but this is even the second time I've referenced "The Future of Forestry" by C.S. Lewis. I encourage you to read the poem ... and then read it again ... and maybe one more time for posterity, because I'm not sure if a poem can sink in the first or second time through. For some reason this poem has been on my mind lately and I'm not exactly sure why, but I do have a few thoughts ::

  • While I'm not very convinced that the last tree will ever fall in England (or anywhere for that matter), or that the country will be covered with concrete from shore to shore I do get the concept. I understand what Mr. Lewis was getting at. I think I've mentioned this before, but my mom spent 36 years teaching grade school in Waterloo, IA. The same Waterloo, IA that is surrounded by farms in every direction, is the home of multiple John Deere factories, and holds a yearly event called Cattle Congress! But, as the years progressed in her teaching career her students lost the connection to the farm, and even basic knowledge of the farm. My old toy tractors became her teaching tools! It isn't so much the reality of farms going away that is scary, but rather the connection with them.
  • In the middle of the poem the students are asking, "What was a chestnut?" and "What was Autumn?" Think of those questions in farm terms ... Is it possible that we could get to a point where children would ask, "Where does bacon come from?" or "What is a farm?" The story of the farm needs to be told. The Farm Bureau is saying that the farm story is needs to be told and local farmers all over the country are saying the story needs to be told. That is probably one major thing both the small-scale/local/natural/direct-marketing farmers and the large-scale industrial agriculture farmers can agree on.
  • But really, I think the reason I ended up on this poem again is because the farm kind of has me down lately. I feel like I'm getting knocked backwards more than I am even taking baby steps forwards and it frustrates me. And so with my farming heart in that state I ended up on a poem about forests and concrete and England ... and for some reason I was a little renewed and a little more excited about the farm. But, I still don't know what it's all going to look like in six months ...
I guess what I'm really trying to say is that you should read the poem. I don't know if I understand it very well (I think I know what I get out of it at this moment though), but I really enjoy it and I've been reading it a lot. And, I'll ask a similar question to the one I asked after I mentioned this poem for the first time back in February of 2009. What are you reading now? More specifically, are you reading anything that is energizing your passion for the farm?

(As for a farm update ... I'm still messing around with my tractor that has battery/generator/shorting issues ... hopefully sometime I can tell you what the real problem is)


CJ said...

In the past month or two I have read:

All Flesh is Grass

A composting book that I forgot the name of already.

The Town That Food Saved

Deeply Rooted

Small is Possible

Possum Living

And I just about to start
Sustainable Capitalism

Steve Romero said...

I like that poem! Have you ever heard of Ted Kooser? I think you'd really enjoy his stuff.

David N said...

I will have to read that poem.

I am currently in Joel Salatin's Pastured Poultry Profits, Next is All Flesh is Grass (Gene Logsdon), then Joel Salatin's Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer (if it comes for Christmas :) ).

Glad to see you are being really honest about pioneer farming. I am also glad to see you are getting a little bit of excitement back into your daily work!

Luke said...

There's a band that got their name from that poem too:

Yeoman said...

"Is it possible that we could get to a point where children would ask, "Where does bacon come from?"

Is it possible. Shoot, that's already the case. Even here in cattle country there are plenty of grade school kids who have no idea where anything in the store comes from.

Try "where does milk come from?". I'd wager that out of an average population of 30 grade school kids, probably half wouldn't know the answer.

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