Have you been able to take in any of the beautiful fall foliage yet this year? The peak color seems to be holding off a little longer due to the warmer and milder weather. The Indian Summer has been a boon to farmers, giving them a little more time to work their fields. Our little garden is just about done for the year, but all over the country, a drive down just about any country road will allow you to take in sights of harvesters bringing in the crops.
Until I moved to Northeast Ohio, and then to Western Pennsylvania, I had never seen any archaic field harvesting methods. All of my travels in California and Minnesota only exposed me to large scale, mechanized farming using gigantic combines, huge tractors and tri-axle dump trucks. Of course I’d seen manual row harvesting in the strawberry fields and grape vineyards of California’s Central Valley, but I never saw the kind of harvesting practiced by our local Amish communities and Organic/Sustainable Agriculture farmers. I am always awestruck by the picturesque beauty of the draft horse teams pulling the wagon-mounted harvesters over the gently rolling hills and the rows of neatly organized “teepees” of cornstalks or straw they produce.
A young Amish man struck up a conversation with me many years ago while we were both shopping in a local harness shop. He told me my sons were about the same age as his daughter who was at home and very sick. As we walked out by his buggy in the parking lot, my boys ran over to pet his horse and I asked if I could pray for his daughter. He joined me in prayer. Afterward, he asked if we would like to go for a ride in his buggy. Of course we said yes. He took us back a long country road past several fields and farm houses. The kids were having a blast! I asked him why the fields were worked the way they were; why so meticulous and neat? He told me some things I’ve never forgotten. “We do things the way we do because we can reasonably expect certain results from our labor.” He continued “Put another way – when we’re done with a job, we leave things the way we expect others to find them; finished and done right.” “The same goes for spring planting” he said. “You plant with an expectation of harvesting what you planted, how you planted it.”
We circled back around to the saddle shop and the man dropped us back at our car. We parted ways and never saw him again, but his wisdom has stuck with me all these years. What kind of “harvest” do I expect from the way I cultivate relationships; from the way I serve, or fail to serve others; from the way I speak or write? Do I till my “soil” deeply, nourish the “ground” richly and carefully plant quality “seed”, or do I compact, scorch and salt the “fields” I walk making them bitter and thorn choked wastelands? The choice is ours, for we are all harvesters of what we sow.
© 2016 Curt Savage Media