Thursday, April 3, 2014

Walking with My Father

My Dad had "Management By Walking Around" all figured out over 40 years ago. When I was little we would often park the pick-up by one of his fields and walk for what seemed like hours to look at the crops. It was often hard to keep up with my shorter legs and I would often have to run a little, but there was nothing more fun than being out "farming" with Dad. I know more than once Dad would feign the need to pull a couple of weeds until I could get caught up and we would launch into the next field.

With my own crops, I can relate to the deep sense of enjoyment this gave him.

You will often find me wandering in what appears to be an aimless path, looking here, and pausing there. Digging, always digging, coaxing the seedlings out of their slumber. This "random" walk among the fields is purposeful and beautiful, it speaks to the farming blood in my veins and it keeps me centered.  In a way it is kind of like being the director of a choir and being able to get everyone singing in beautiful harmony.

It didn't seem to matter whether it was corn or soybeans or hay, Dad wanted to know the condition of each and every field. I think if he could have he would have walked every row. He would often comment about the farmer who only "drove" by their fields as if this was neglectful somehow. It was as if by sheer force of will, if he was there and watching over it all, nothing bad would happen. At least not on his watch.

Organic farmers have to be better managers just like my Dad. They have to know the condition of their flocks and fields, they have to anticipate issues with weeds and pests before they get out of control, they have a lower margin for error, because they can't just solve all the issues with chemicals. They have to perfect their art form and they have to be at the top of their game. That is good and as it should be.

This post is dedicated to Brian's father who began farming with Jesus in heaven on Sunday, 3/30/14.

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