Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gift of Soil

Yesterday our friend Rolf brought us a truckload of aged cow manure. Rolf is the same farmer from whom we purchased beef. He practices sustainable agriculture with respect to the Earth and all creatures to the greatest extent he is capable. That is essential to us. The gift of the cows and the Earth that nourished them is now rich black soil. We are so excited with this treasure amended to our Farm.

Soil is something for which we 3 C’s have considerable awe, respect, and humility. In northeast Missouri, this “skin” of the Earth has been farmed beginning around 1830. After almost 2 centuries, the soil is worn and tired.

Our society’s thinking about soil derives from Euro-centric (human-centered) thinking which is largely detached from Nature and the Earth. Many earlier farmers (and certainly a growing number today) got that connection. They could see their lives (and those of future generations) depended on it.

But over time, the style of agriculture practiced has been less and less concerned with the need to return the soil to its original vitality. The soil has simply become a machine which produces products and pays bills. In modern day language, the soil is “mined”. Little by little, that vitality has been washed away. As that vitality has washed away, new chemical and technological processes are introduced to continue production with something "better". With the introduction of factory style industrial agriculture and absentee landowners, a path to destruction has forged a deepening footprint across the land.

Most people in our society know little about the soil. I don’t know much. But I do know that soil gives us life. When I think about soil I think about patience. This relatively thin skin that covers the Earth has taken millions and billions of years to develop.

The Earth and all Creation is a Master painting of which we Humans are only a tiny little part. The only problem is that tiny little part has created a kind of destruction which seems to know no limits.

We 3 C’s desire a different path. An essential part of that path is letting the Soil be our Teacher. Our overall goal is to restore the health and vitality of the Soil to the extent we are capable. We want to leave this land at least as good if not better than how we found it. Is that not what we are supposed to do?

I chuckle. As Rolf turned his truck into the driveway to head back home, Freddie (the Buff Orpington Rooster) had found the lovely pile of soil and he was pleased. You need to know that Freddie has on many occasions found something new and pleasing in the yard. At which point, he calls the Hennies over. You can almost hear him say: “Just look at what I have for you.” That’s exactly what he did yesterday. He climbed the pile and began to crow.

We 3 Humans are pleased too.

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