Introduction: Part 2 of 3ish

I’m a firm believer that one of the largest problems facing modern agriculture is the recent loss of the rural culture that was so prevalent for much of human experience. Of late, there has been massive urbanization throughout the world, with the result being a chronic shortage of people left in rural areas. There are a myriad of reasons for this, which I won’t go into today, but the shortage of people in rural areas, coupled with the growth of the consumer culture has largely devastated most rural  communities.

I’m really cognizant of the fact that I am heading into rant territory, but please bear with me. I promise I will not actually rant, but will only skirt the line momentarily.

I believe community is important for all people in all places and at all times. I believe it truly allows us to be fully human, in fact it is required in order for us to truly experience all of human existence. I believe however that it is especially important in rural areas.

Recently, I was driving across Ontario and was blessed to see a group of (I believe) Old-Order Mennonites doing hay. They had two teams of horses pulling the wagons and at least six people loading the hay onto the wagons. I compare this to how most modern farmers do hay, which involves a lot fewer people and a lot more tractor, and the difference is startling. Though I do not believe the Old-Order Mennonites are perfect, I do admire the importance they place on building community, especially through the discipline of work. I would also suggest that a lot of how they farm is incredibly sustainable, and has proven so over a long period of time. I believe there is more than just a coincidence there.

When I first thought of moving to Lindsay, I wanted to take part in building community, in a number of ways. I’ll discuss more of these ways in future posts. One way though that I wanted to build community was to find people I could live with. People who I could learn from, both within agriculture and also in other ways. Our homes are the building blocks of community. From there, from the everyday working out of daily lives, community begins.

While I will relate more details next week, I am happy to say that I have met an incredible family who have agreed to let me stay with them… a family from whom I will learn a LOT from! Let me say that I am so incredibly stoked to be able to get to know them next year.

And no. They are not Old-Order Mennonites.

6 thoughts on “Introduction: Part 2 of 3ish

    • Sadly, I haven’t read any Tolstoy. .. I can see myself doing so though. I just finished my first Hemingway novel, and I’ve always been a sucker for reading the “classics.” May I ask you to expand on how these thoughts are “Levinesque?”

      • Sure. Levin is my favourite character from the book. He’s a wealthy land owner who is struggling to figure out his role in regards to work and the land and where faith fits into it all. He’d rather work along side the peasant field workers than lord over them. He spends a lot of time thinking about what kind of work makes us happy and healthy. It’s a good read for his thoughts alone, even if you aren’t interested in aristocratic love triangles!

      • Hmm… I’m definitely going to add that book to my reading list. The “kind of work that makes us happy and healthy” is such a beautiful concept to dwell on… I’ve run into it through reading Berry, Schumacher and a few others… it would be good to see the idea dealt with using the medium of fiction… it’s nice to see it being lived out in some way.

  1. Adam, your post makes me think about the “community-building” that takes place at hay time here. I’ve always found it hard to ask people for help (I’d rather pull out my teeth one by one with a rusty pair of pliers), but it has been a necessity come hay time now that we have our farm. Though we do use modern machinery, there’s still a lot of manual labour involved in getting it all on the wagon, off the wagon, and put into the barn. It can be a brutal job, inevitably coinciding with the hottest time of the summer, yet strangely people keep asking if they can come help out at hay time. At first I figured it was just going to be a one-time offer…once people actually experienced how much work it actually is, they’d not volunteer again. But every year we keep getting people excited come back and help at hay time. Sometimes it baffles me, but then I think there is something inherently satisfying about working together to accomplish such a vital task. One helper once said he was so proud to tell a cashier at the grocery store that he had just finished moving 50 tonnes of hay when she asked how his day went. But I think there might be more than just the sheer accomplishment to explain people’s enthusiasm to help at hay time…I just don’t know exactly what it is. I wonder if there’s some sort of innate need to cooperate on that level. …or maybe its just the cold beer we offer at the end of the day. I am curious, though, why the seemingly unpleasant task of putting the hay away is so attractive to so many.

    • Great points Julie! Having done hay before, I can honestly say it is one of the most brutal jobs on the farm… but it’s also one of the most fun. When I get in the car at the end of the day, when I’m barely able to lift my arms up to the steering wheel, it’s an incredibly good feeling.

      Part of me wonders if that feeling is partly due to the endorphins kicking in, similar to what runners feel after running a marathon (so I’ve heard), but coupled with the satisfaction of having accomplished something so tangible and real… This would be an interesting thing to look into.

      I’m also glad you shared how you do the job, using modern technology but still incorporating a community of workers. It shows that there are ways of doing it on a human scale without necessarily going full-on Amish. Thank you!

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