Taking Stock

It’s been a long season.  This is not a new realization, but one I’ve become familiar with over the last eight years.  We stand in the midst of week 19 in our 22 week CSA program.  There were a couple weeks where we were really wondering if we’d have enough, and yet we always did.  The staff has dwindled as people have moved on from their farming venture.  Ed will be leaving at the end of the season, Bowie has gone back to school, Erik has his own farm to tend to, and Rob is rejoining the Washington D.C. office crowd.

It’s been a good season.  We finally broke the barrier on winter squash.  I kept the sheep in their designated pasture for the most part.  We butchered more chickens than we’ve done before, and even ventured into packaging parts.  I purchased some corn equipment and will harvest eight acres of field corn starting next month.  This will help offset our feed bills for the hogs and chickens.

We expanded into three more markets.  In the end I dropped one (just can’t work 7 days a week).  We’ve been able to introduce The Lamb’s Quarter to new friends.  We continue to make a difference.

One of the ladies at the butcher shop tells me I should just move in.  It’s true – I’m there at least once every week.  The butcher shop is 75 miles away….  I’m blessed to have access to a small slaughterhouse/butcher shop where my business means a lot to them.  They certainly mean a lot to me.  We’ve moved more meat this year than at any other time in our history.  I know the vegetables are good and simply taste better than nearly anything else you’ll find, but the meat is absolutely amazing.  You won’t beat it anywhere else.  We’ve built a business around the concept of shared blessings.

Now comes the tricky part.  As I’ve alluded to earlier, things are changing here on the farm as we look for new staff to help us, and take the time to look at our business model to see how we can better serve our friends, new and old.  I’d like to develop a delivery service for our meats and eggs.  We experimented last year with opening the farm store on Tuesday after the CSA season.  I’d like to do that again.

I’d like to hear from you.  What do you like, how could we improve, your ideas for the future of The Lamb’s Quarter.  I’d also like to identify young people who really want to farm but need to acquire skills.  And if we can grow this thing, someone who’s retired willing to drive a delivery route.

Thanks for being our friends and allowing us to share our blessings.

Circle of Life

By this evening, fall shall have arrived.  Another summer of work has melted into a fall of preparation; putting things away, planting greens for late fall, winter, and early spring, cutting the last of the hay.  This is the time nature begins to turn to slumber, rest, and ultimately, renewal.

We take so many things for granted.  We seldom think of what it takes to live, the cycle of life and death that is constantly at work around us.  Every seed planted dies in the ground, and in dying mysteriously brings out life; the decay of an animal brings about a rich hummus that will once again nourish the earth.  It’s as though we are all part of a great dance, orchestrated by higher powers, spirits unseen, taking our place in the circle of life.  Dust to dust…

The minister spoke on Lazarus.  It was a great sermon, a thing of beauty actually.  He brought out things in the gospel account I’d never considered.  How Jesus differed in his response to Martha and then to Mary; to Martha he gave an acclimation (“I am the resurrection and the life…”), to Mary he gave his tears (“Jesus wept.”)  To each he gave what was needed at the moment.

Then he went on to say how Jesus was angry at death, and called Lazarus out from beyond the grave and restored him to life.  And yes, that is what Jesus did.  But I’m not sure that his anger was simply at the act of dying.

Death is part of the created order.  Fertility is based upon death and decay in order to bring about new life.  Unless we see ourselves as somehow apart from this process, we must reckon our place within it.  The fact that we continue to live means that something in nature must die, be it animal or plant.  Death is not the enemy of life; sterility is.  While I want the doctor to use sterile tools to perform whatever procedure he must perform, I do not want my food to be sterile and I certainly do not want my animals to be.  Sterility is rather final all around.

Jesus deep emotion, anger if you’d like, at the graveside of Lazarus was at the separation that human death causes.  When God judged our first parents in the garden after they disobeyed, death was not immediate, but separation from God was.  And physical death for humans has provided the exclamation point to separation ever since.

So this is how I see it.  Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead as a sign of fellowship restored.  Lazarus is in sheol (the holding place for the dead O.T.) and calls him back to life, back to Him.  When Jesus dies on the cross, he descends to sheol (hell) and winnows hell, leading the faithful captives free and ushering them into the presence of God – separation reversed, fellowship restored.

On this side of the cross, we have hope of eternal life, but we also have fellowship restored.  In the great Eucharistic feast, we gather with those living on either side of the altar – those who’ve died and yet live in the presence of God, and those of us not yet “perfected,” working out our salvation and being made fit for heaven in the process.

The sun is up now.  Time to put these musings away and go into the day.