Sunday, March 5, 2017

It is NOT This Day

Tammy and I have been regular attendees of the Practical Farmers of Iowa Cooperators Meeting for the past several years.  The two-day meeting features discussion and presentations on how research and projects fared during the previous year and then on designing new projects for the upcoming season.

Tammy was asked to give the closing remarks for the 2016 Cooperator's Meeting and she was a bit uncertain as to whether she should agree to do so or not.  I strongly encouraged her to do this and I think she came up with a winner.  In fact, it was liked well enough that PFI put it out on YouTube.  That's a compliment.  And I will continue with the compliment by including the video here and the text she based her closing remarks on.

While this was all presented in a light-hearted fashion, there is a great deal of meat to what is being said here.  Take a moment and enjoy.

JRR Tolkein wrote a good story.  Is that an understatement, or what?!  For those of you who are not familiar with his work, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, is an author and linguistic scholar, best known for his high-fantasy novels The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He is also known for his intense attention to detail. I have long loved Tolkein’s stories and grown to appreciate the importance he placed on detail and accuracy.  “Close enough” was just not good enough.  

I see a lot of Tolkein’s dedication to detail and knowledge in PFI farmers and our dedication to detailed research.  Rob has convinced me, despite my admitted preference for “I think” to move to “I know” on the farm.  Count it, measure it, record it, then plan it.  And, repeat - Count it, measure it, record it, then plan it.  

Tolkein’s writings offer so much timeless wisdom including this exchange early in the “Rings” journey:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

There are many things farmers struggle with including increasingly extreme weather and uncertain economics and changing policies.  What we CAN do is decide what WE want to do with what we have – not just “Go along”.

At one point, one of the HEROES in the Ring Trilogy, Aragon, inspires his troops before a seemingly hopeless battle:
"Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!"

I hope our farming does not seem “hopeless”, though we certainly face challenges.  So, with thanks to Tolkein and assistance from Dick Thompson:
Hold your ground,  Protect your ground!  Farmers of Iowa, Row Crop, Grazer and Hort.  I see in your eyes that same passion for farm and soil that inspires me.  A day may come when the courage of farmers fails, when we forsake our passion for sustainable, well managed farms and break all bonds with our history of smart farming, but that is not this day.  An hour of weeds, pests and disease, a day of intense pressure to conform, to “go along”, when the age of “thinking farmers” on diverse farms come crashing down.  But, it is NOT this day!  This day we research!  By all the you hold dear for the good of this earth, I bid you, RESEARCH and LEARN, Farmers of the Land!

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