Tag Archives: Stories

Farm Stories

This Friday I experienced some serious dejà vu. I was minding my business weighing some grass-fed beef and pricing it, when someone ran into the building and said, “Kelly smashed her fingers pretty bad and I think she needs to go to the hospital!” Since I went to the hospital little over a month ago also for a sliced finger, I was quickly volunteered to drive her to the hospital. Four hours of sitting in an emergency room brings up a lot of conversation about health care reform. But that’s not what this post is about.

She smashed the middle and ring finger in between a trailer and the hitch. Not a good place for fingers to be! She ended up with eleven stitches. I was supposed to be on weekend duty with her, but we made up for it with the four hours of conversation in the ER. The doctor was very nice, and even got the farm’s number for some grass-fed beef. The nurse regaled us with some vivid ER stories and commentary about society and the problems with African-American culture (of which she was a part).

It wasn’t what either of us expected to do on a beautiful fall day in Texas. It was a reminder of the dangers of life and work. I guess even a cubicle farm has paper cuts, freak stapler accidents and the like. It seems that we’re obsessed with being injury free. Not that I wish harm to anyone, but getting hurt is kind of just part of life. If you don’t get your heart or some bones broken at some point you’re not really living. Kelly knew it was stupid that she stuck her fingers where they shouldn’t have been. I knew better than to stick my finger in a fridge fan without looking. Our injuries don’t have the best stories to go with them. You don’t have to get mauled by a bear to feel alive, but stitches and/or a broken bone are part of stepping out your front door and engaging the world around, even more if you live on a farm or work with your hands.

I guess what I’m saying is that part of farming and changing the world is not being afraid to get dirty. It also means not being afraid to smash your fingers now and then.

Farm Stories

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity and adventures. I’m completely exhausted and ready for a mundane week on the farm doing chores and getting dirty. We drove to San Antonio a week ago for the Farm and Food Leadership Conference. You can read about the sessions here, just search “farm and food”, or #farmandfood09 on twitter. After just over a day back on the farm we left for Texas Lutheran University in Seguin where I preached at chapel (mp3 available soon from the ChapelCast, hopefully) and was part of a panel on environmental sustainability with two other TLU alumni. We stopped by the Texas Agricultural Education and Heritage Center on our way out of town and wandered the grounds. Yesterday we took the kids to the Waco Cultural Arts Festival all morning and now I need an extra weekend to recover from all that time away from real work at the farm.

Our next adventure will be October 1-4 when we head to Lost Maples for a family camping vacation to celebrate Sarah’s birthday.

While I was gone it appears that nature continued doing her thing. The edamame and beans have shot up and the carrots are sprouting. I saw at least two butternut squash growing and I’m sure some melons are hiding in there. Lots of weeding needed for the beans, but they are doing well. Hopefully, we’ll get some romaine planted this week and cover crops on the other half of the plot. Our education garden badly needs some attention. Luckily we have lots of help and “many hands make light work.” Becoming a farmer not only makes me swear more often, but also use old sayings like that one as if I’ve said it all my life. Now to find a good pair of overalls and a cowboy hat that fits my style.

A few pictures from my garden…

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Farm Stories

I struggle with words to explain my time on the farm. An update always seems to involve data, details of events and numbers. An update is a way to make me feel like I’m doing something important. What I really need is a farm journal or a farm haiku, maybe even a farm story.

I started reading Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain again and it put me in my place. There is not room in my faith and my life for obscurity. Obscurity is a curse and a judgment on my existence. I need to be known, not by my Creator, but by you, my reader. Most of what happens on the farm is obscure thankless work. The reality of this has not sunk in yet. I am always looking toward what’s next. What will be the next thing? Of course I am concerned about a job and paying all the bills. I am also too concerned with my own image.

I don’t write stories well. I’m used to research and technical language that makes arguments, references and explanations. But this way of writing misses something. It is not able to capture the layers and complexities of life. So I want to try to write more stories and poems about life on the farm and what I’m learning. This will be a challenge for me, but a good one.

The Long and Short of It

Tonight I am teaching at Meadow Oaks Baptist Church where I’ve been a member for about 4 years. I am teaching about my journey and calling toward agricultural missions and understanding the role food plays in our lives, globalization and justice. This is a pretty concise summation of why food is so important, my theology of mission and how food fits into God’s mission for the world. By concise I mean I had to cut a whole lot of important stuff out. Luckily I have a wife who listens to me ramble and tells me which parts to cut and which parts don’t make sense. So this is both very long for a blog post, but too short to say everything I wanted.

The full text after the jump.

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The Commodification of Susan Boyle

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I don’t own a television and I don’t live in the UK. I also don’t have an internet connection at my house. This is why it took me until Saturday night to watch a downloaded YouTube video of Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent. I was completely blown away. Beneath the dramatic editing of reality TV and the sweeping music added for effect there appeared to be a real moment of grace where something genuinely surprising and beautiful happened. That kernel of something was enough for me to get swept away by the rest of the trappings and the moment.

For those, like me, who are usually out of the loop, a 47 year old Scottish woman who was unemployed and never been kissed pranced onto the UK’s American Idol (It’s actually the reverse I think, because the UK version is the original. I digress) in her frumpy Edith Bunker way and proceeded to shock everyone by belting “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. I knew it was a real moment when the female judge (why is it always only one female judge, never two) said,

I’m so thrilled because I know that everybody was against you. I honestly think that we were all being very cynical. And I think that was the biggest wake up call ever.

The bubble had been burst and something beautiful happened. For a moment that upside kingdom was slightly visible, where the unexpected happens and the last are first. This wasn’t a rags to riches, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps story. This was a moment that made us realize who we really were. Our assumptions, prejudices and cynicism laid bare for all to see.

My wife said, “Yeah, but what happens now?” Will this genuine moment simply be subsumed by the consumer religion into another marketing strategy, a line of “I Heart Susan” paraphernalia? Consumerism demands that everything is a commodity: ideas, seeds, mortgages and bets on bets on mortgages. Advertisers already toy with our heartstrings, otherwise the jokes about crying at cotton commercials wouldn’t ring so true. I hope that a moment like this would teach us something, but I’m afraid it will be drowned out by the noise about the moment, telling us what to buy in order to capture the moment.

We still like to occasionally watch this classic video of Jesus Junk Music that made the rounds last year. We watched it again right after seeing Susan Boyle as sort of a palate cleanser before watching her again. It seemed so hollow and empty in comparison. Ironic, isn’t it? Here is the YouTube video for you to judge.