Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
I was lamenting to my neighbor recently that farming was a whole lot more work than I knew before we started this farming project. With a straight face, she looked at me and said that my husband and I were not farmers at all, but that we were pilgrims.
You see, the farm that we bought hadn’t been farmed in about 30 years. Doesn’t impress you either? Doesn’t sound like a big deal, I know, until you have to go out into that field and actually clear ten to thirty years’ worth of growth. Let me tell you, trees and their branches are a whole lot heavier than you would think. Those branches look so elegant and beautiful, swaying in that breeze. But when they come crashing down off of that tree onto your head because your husband is a chain-sawing demon and you mistakenly got too close while clearing his detritus and you get knocked to the ground, it is just a little surprising. That branch didn’t look that substantial when it was up on the side of that tree. And then you try to drag that branch over to the pile of branches that will be burned later, and you can work up quite a sweat. Tree clearing is not for wimps. Clearing the frontier is such a romantic idea, until your husband puts you to work actually clearing the frontier.
My neighbor rightly dubbed us the pilgrims because of the extent to which we have to work just to see the dirt beneath the trees and shrubs. I can honestly say that the thought of coming to the New World and clearing it and settling here was daunting when I first studied Pilgrims in the fourth grade, but now they are my heroes. They cleared the land with just handsaws and axes. They then used those limbs to build houses, all the while hauling their water from creeks and making do in the wilderness. And through it all, they wore heavy wool clothes, rain or shine, winter or summer. Compared to them, Superman is a pansy. Heck, how hard can it be to save the world when you have super powers and can fly? But can you cut down a tree in less than a day using just an axe? And not have it fall on you, your house, or your wife? Now that’s difficult!
Next time, I’d sure appreciate it if my husband wouldn’t just look down at me lying under the foliage of the branch that just fell on me and ask our son, “What is mom doing under there? Taking a nap?” Maybe a little more concern on his part about my welfare while I was lying under those branches would give me reassurance that I will survive this pilgrim experience that he calls farming. I think the next time, it’s my turn with the chainsaw and he can do the clean up.