Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Purpose of Life

I grew up in a place just a few miles north of the birthplace of Warren G. Harding, the US President.  The name of this place is Blooming Grove, Ohio.  It has ceased to be a community that has any statistics recorded about it in Wikipedia.  It is, however,  still a crossroads and a highway sign is there to mark the location.  A memorial plaque is placed at the Harding birthplace, which is outside of the "town" proper.  My father's farm was on a road that crossed "Crestline-BloomingGrove Road".

The town name is so poetic, I want to live there just to have my return address be "Bright Meadow" in "Blooming  Grove".  However, this is not to be, as far as I know there is no post office in Blooming Grove.

This place is also geographically located between the farms of Louis Bromfield in Perrysville and Gene Logsdon in Upper Sandusky.

I grew up on this farm in the 1960's.  I was born in 1956, four months after the death of Louis Bromfield.  But Gene Logdson is still alive!  I am currently reading his book "You Can Go Home Again".  He writes about his experience writing freelance articles for the Farm Journal. 

I read the Farm Journal every month while a teenager.  Specifically, I ignored the market reports but read all the articles about raising livestock, making things, the human interest stories, and especially "The Farmer's Wife" section.  I read the magazine and "Successful Farming" when they arrived in our mailbox, before my father got home from working at his factory job.\ The single channel we received on our black and white TV was not sufficient to keep me occupied, so I was a great reader.   Farming for my father was a way of life, but it was also an expensive hobby. In the magazines, I watched the transformation from "The Farmer's Wife" to "Farm Wife News" to spin off  to Rieman Publications and become  "Country Woman". I am guessing I read some of Gene Logsdon's writing when it was still "hot off the press."

I recently learned of the death of Patricia Leimbach, also an Ohio farm writer.  In addition to her three books, she wrote numerous articles for farm magazines and was known for her syndicated newspaper column "The Country Wife".  I am sure I read many of these articles as a teenager.

Even with all this\farm-related teenaged reading, I still left the farm to pursue a college degree and a professional, management career in manufacturing.  As far as I could see, there was no way to make any money on the farm.  Unless you wrote books and magazine articles about farming.

Now, an adult, and almost ready to retire, I'm also reading Wendell Berry and E.F. Schumaker's "A Guide for the Perplexed".   Also, seemingly unrelated, but actually related very closely, " Practical Advice for Lifetime Maintenance after Bariatric Surgery" by Pamela Harrelson. I find a common theme in all these books.

In contrast to recent events reported in the media,where many businesses were seen to be "too big to fail", I am more and more convince that our society has allowed our economic units to be "too big to succeed" 

"God did not design our bodies to have an "issue" with nutrition or exercise.  We used to burn off the calories by planting and harvesting our food! This problem is rooted in an industrialized society with cars, phones, desk jobs!  God knew that I had no patience and He understood how this came about.  I feel that many of us are victimized by our society, which contributes to a sedentary lifestyle.  We used to burn our calories by regular daily work before so many amenities were available."- Pamela Harrellson

"Another farmer in our neighborhood, Gottlief, had a philosophy on such matters that affected me greatly.  He lived to be well over a hundred years old, was in fact still clubbing groundhogs to death with his cane at age one hundred, as the local paper proudly reported.  He led an extremely simple life, and so, even from his little sixty-acre grain and livestock farm, he made enough money for his purposes.  A friend and I visited him when he was in his eighties or nineties to record some of his observations for posterity.  I asked him why he didn't go ahead and remodel his old farmhouse or at least bring water into the house since I knew he could well afford to.  "Oh, that would be too much trouble," he said, dismissing the question with a wave of his hand.  "I'll soon be dead anyway." But he kept on living contentedly for many more years, without indoor plumbing.  He'd watch the cars zoom by on the new highway and wonder aloud: "Where are all theose people trying to go, anyway?" -Gene Logsdon

" Moreover, in any given region, there is a limit beyond which a farm outgrows the attention, affection, and care of a single owner.  The size of the fields is also a matter of agricultural concern.  Fields can be too big to permit the effectiverotation of grazing, or to prevent erosion of land in cultivation.  In general, the steeper the ground, the smaller should be the fields" - Wendell Berry

"This means, among other things, that the land and its human communities are not being thought about in places of study and leadership, and this failure to think is causing damage.  But if one lives in a country place, and if one loves it, one must think about it." - Wendell Berry

"Human society is moving in the opposite direction, toward ever-increasing consolidation. That is supposed to be our glory, but I fear it is also our doom.  The cost of transporting all that food into dense clusters of human and animal populations, and transporting all that manure back out again, is unsustainable in the long run" - Gene Logsdon

"What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?
He forbids not only outright theft and robbery, punishable by law. But in God's sight theft also includes cheating and swindling our neighbor by schemes made to appear legitimate, such as:
inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume; fraudulent merchandising; counterfeit money;
excessive interest; or any other means forbidden by God. In addition he forbids all greed and pointless squandering of his gifts."
- Heidelberg Catechism

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