Every day is Earth Day on the Farm. It’s not just a 24-hour pause to remember and honor the Earth. Earth Day on the Farm is more like Easter. It’s an annual celebration of a long-term commitment to “everlasting” life.
Just imagine spending all day outside, earning a living in a working landscape. That may sound pretty idyllic if you’re an avid hiker, hunter, biker, or bird watcher trapped in a cubical in a high-rise office building in the middle of a polluted urban area. But, there’s also a tough reality to Earth Day on the Farm.
Now imagine spending all of the daylight hours outside, dealing with the aftermath of the latest bomb cyclone in the dead of winter or in the heat of high summer. Or, imagine lying awake all night worrying about how to support your family when market prices are down and input expenses are high.
The secret to celebrating Earth Day on the Farm is to work WITH Nature rather than struggling against Nature. A perceived fight to survive often leads to extractive management practices that deplete soil, pollute water, endanger animals, and gut communities. But, these are mainly driven by the greed and hubris of large, indifferent corporations and their executives who live in gated isolation. In contrast, my neighbors and the vast majority of family farmers living on the land are fully engaged and humble stewards who clearly understand the fundamental economic imperatives of working with Nature.
In 1970 my family completely missed out on the first Earth Day celebration because we were waiting for my brother’s body to return home from Viet Nam. In 2018 I wrote an essay for a conference on how the war influenced life in the Great Plains. Here’s a link to the “story” version that I read at the conference: https://ellsbrothers.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/the-story-of-how-the-vietnam-war-impacted-a-family-farm-in-the-eastern-great-plains/ But, beware it’s about 4,000 words. And, here’s a link to the full essay (7,000 words) with references included: https://retiredprofessorramblings.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/suspended-succession-how-the-vietnam-war-impacted-a-family-farm-in-the-eastern-great-plains/