Down on the farm.
I have roots in the Iowa farm country where I was born and my father was a dairy farmer. Linda’s roots go far deeper into the farm life than mine as she was born into several generations of farm families. Though her father was to leave the farm for agricultural research and teaching, the farm is still in her family as it has been for 120 years or more. In some ways both of us feel at home here in rural Western Oklahoma because of the early years of life down on the farm.
There is a charm to the rural lifestyle that is both spiritual and Spiritual. There is a slower pace to life, an appreciation for the seasons and the weather that is more than just whether or not the rain will ruin whatever event we have planned or whether it is football or baseball season. There is an understanding in the country about what goes into the milk we put on our cereal and the tomato catsup we put on our burger. I also think there is a clearer understanding in rural America about creation and the Creator because life is more identified with both.
I just read an article from christianitytoday.com about a small but committed segment of the Christian culture that is trying to do farming and rural life in a more Creator centered way. Neither liberals nor traditional evangelicals are flocking to the countryside, but another group is, says Salatin. “Thirty years ago, 80 percent of all visitors to our farm were hippie, cosmic-worshipping, nirvana earth muffins,” he says in his typical rambling manner. “Today, 80 percent are Christian homeschoolers.”
There is something about the farm life, the country life, the small town life that enhances the Spiritual. Of course few are able to afford the farm life, including many farmers, but there is no doubt that many are drawn to it because it is a connection to the Creator in a way almost impossible in the city. “Evangelical Christians give a biblical basis for why they’re doing what they’re doing. I think most rural communities are going to be a lot more open to a Christian family starting a farm and saying we want community, we want a better place for our family, we want better stewardship of the earth because God commanded it. That people can buy.”
The “new farmers” are discovering there is a “Creator way” of doing farming and they are finding it works. For example: In contrast to industrially produced chickens that can’t leave their cages, that need to have their beaks cut off so they don’t peck at each other, and that are ridden with disease, Salatin allows his chickens to poke freely around his pasture. Salatin says he is just copying creation. “We use God’s design and take it as a template,” he says. “Our overriding question is not how do we grow the chicks bigger and faster and cheaper. The goal that we have is how do we … create a habitat that allows the chicken to fully express her ‘chickenness.’ “
In an age where hormone injected meat is being rejected in ever increasing numbers the God way to raise food is working. If you raise these animals the way God intended,” says Mike Hansen, a farmer in Wisconsin, “you get healthy meat.”
Economically it doesn’t make a lot of sense to raise chickens this way, and I understand why farmers trying to make a profit that allows them to stay on the farm must raise chickens the way they do, but that doesn’t mean it is the best way to do it.
America needs farms and farmers for reasons that are greater than just supplying our food, and sadly the family farm is disappearing at an alarming rate from rural America and in the wake of those disappearances are some silo sized problems. As rural businesses close, as children leave for jobs in the city, and as fewer resources are directed to rural areas, social problems run rampant. “It used to be urban areas had the highest crime rates, drug-use rates, alcoholism rates, and suicide rates, especially among young people,” says Mangis. “Now that’s all reversed. Rural rates are higher.” Today, Mangis says, rural towns are either being depopulated or are becoming suburbs.
Perhaps Christian agrarians can be part of the answer to this huge cultural and Spiritual problem. Christian agrarians reinvigorate rural communities with their traditional approach to agriculture and their entrepreneurial businesses. Spending time out here in rural middle America it is clear to me that we need farms and farmers not just to grow our food but to show us our connectedness to the Creator in a way you just can’t see in the parking lot freeways of the big cities.
If you are interested in learning more about this subject read the whole article here. Be sure and check out a few of the blogs that are listed at the bottom of the article. Even if this lifestyle is not for you I think you will find it interesting.