Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 7:41 PM
sent by Zachary Kleyn


This quote, Reality's never been of much use out here, especially spoken
by a retired Wyoming rancher, struck me as odd.

It's odd to me because of the cliché we might use about people who work
on the land, as farmers or laborers: That they are "down to earth," or
"grounded," as opposed to dreamers or creative types that have their "head
in the clouds" or are "a million miles away." I'm not sure why there is a
relationship between these phrases and the working proximity to the earth.
Obviously farmers can be dreamers too, or not be able to focus on the task
at hand.

I am wondering though if the people who rely on the soil, on seasons, on
rain and the passage of time for their livelihood, are perhaps better
adapted at accepting the naturally slow unfolding that life takes, are
more "in-tune" to rhythms that are not quite as rushed as man tends to be.

I could be imagining an idyllic and nostalgic version of a farmer, perhaps
one that never really existed. Things have definitely changed in the last
century for farming, and just looking at the size of what the government
officially a "farm" (was it 300 acres?) gives us a markedly different
concept than the one-man-team with oxen plowing the field and eyeing the
oncoming clouds.

I grew up in a huge farming community, near Fresno in the central valley
of California. The myth (or is it reality?) that I learned there as a
child, and which still exists, is the farmer or rancher as being laid
back, easy-going, close to nature and always aware of his or her crop or
cattle on any given day.

Maybe this comes back to a definition of (or a problem defining) reality.
One man's dream is another man's reality.

I understand how it might be easy to bypass "reality" (I'm going to forego
a definition of this for now) if you are a millionaire cowboy or a
hollywood executive living on a smallish ranch, and you have the funds to
hire people to do all the "dirty work" for you (there's one of those
earthy cliches again), but what about farmers who actually still farm, as
in take part in working on the land, with or without hired help? Do these
people still exist? Did they ever exist?


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