Hoping For The Best

The temperatures have finally moderated, and the farmers are out and about with their machinery. My son did his frost seeding long ago thinking that the end of the snow was in sight. He has done this method of planting for the past several years, and it has worked well for him. All he needs is a good hay crop at this point since he grazes his animals.

I saw a rather large tractor in the field last weekend preparing to plow up some land that is rented. I am not sure what will be on that field this year. I will just have to wait and see. The man who rents land from me has already settled up with me, so he is ready to go.

My morning devotion today was the parable of the sower. Although this is a familiar passage it is always good to read through it once again. Each time I read it I take away something different. I used this parable in one of my lay speaking sermons when I was asked to speak at the fairgrounds, and then revamped it for use at one of the churches.

I am paraphrasing as I retell this parable for you. When the man went out to sow some of his seed fell along the path, and the birds ate it. Some seed fell on rocky ground. It sprang up quickly in the shallow soil, but it wilted and died when the sun came out. Some seed fell among the thorns. The plants grew but were choked by the thorns. Some seed fell on good ground. That seed flourished and produced an abundant crop.

Although this whole process makes perfect sense to those with farming or gardening background, it may not be so clear for others. Let me explain. The seed sown on the path is like the person who hears the gospel, but does not believe it or does not want any part of it. It disappears quickly. The seed that fell on rocky ground is like the person who hears the word and makes a decision for Christ, but is soon turned away by Satan because he has no root system to sustain him. The seed that fell among the thorns is like the man who hears the word but lets the worries and problems of the world choke out what was heard. The seed sown in good soil is like the person who hears the word and understands what it means. He puts the gospel to work in his own environment.

Farmers want a good crop. They are the ultimate optimists. They plant the seed in good faith and trust that the Lord will provide. Sometimes the seed does well, other times it fails to produce because of the weather conditions.

I remember one year when it seemed like the haying would never end. It rained so much that summer that the farmers could just not get the hay dry. Each time they hoped to string a couple days together, it rained. It was August, and the first crop was not in. That meant the hay was past its prime, and there was only a glimmer of hope for a second cutting.

We lived in a trailer at the time. I remember how my husband hated to hear the rain on the roof because that meant another day of idleness. The rain did not come as a huge storm; it was just a constant threat. My husband quit listening to the weather forecast because it was depressing.

The hay finally was in the barn, but the quality of it was not good. That year there was also corn to be harvested. The rain kept coming. The fields were so wet that the machinery could not go into some portions of the fields. It was too heavy to make it through the slop. The whole family went out in the field to pick corn. I remember dressing the children in blaze orange because it was hunting season. We did not want any disasters.

We made picking corn into fun for the children. Although some of them were very small they grabbed those ears and twisted them off the stalks. A basket was placed nearby so they could throw them in. I think making a basket was a challenge for some of them, but it was fun to try.

The day ended with a meal at Grandma’s. We all contributed some food so it was not a burden for Grandma. Casseroles were left in the oven while we were in the corn field so all was in readiness when we finished.

That is what farming is about. The farm family finds a way to overcome adversity. If you wonder why farm children have the values that they have, they come from watching the whole family work together. Farming is hard work, but it is a great way to raise a family. I know that my children would not have the values they have without the training that they got on the farm.

That year the weather was not with us, but we made it. I do not remember exactly how the year went, but I know that in the end the animals had enough to eat. Some people feel that farm animals are mistreated, but folks, remember that the animals are the very livelihood of the farmer so he is not about to mistreat them.

The family garden took a hit, too, but with the canned goods from last season and what could be salvaged this season the farm family had enough to eat that year, too.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.