In reading Wendell Berry, I feel an immense urge to get in my truck, drive home to the farm I grew up on and hop on a tractor to help my Father finish harvesting.
I grew up on a little farm, about 16 hundred acres, on a reserve up north.
The sad realization that I have come to in reading Wendell is that I do not know how to use the land well. I do not have or make the time to use it well and I most definitely cannot afford to use it well. Yet, when people ask me if I’m a farm girl, I gloat and happily say yes. It is true that I have grown up hearing my father talk about how frustrating it is that the flood has taken away more than half our crop yield, or that he’ll have to sell X many cows if he expects to feed every cow with enough food this winter. But that’s just it I have heard stories like that all of my life, it’s all he talks about yet I still do not know how he operates the farm. I do not know his crop rotation, I do not know where he has decided to plow, I do not know how he knows every cow and bull in the fence, I just do not know…
I am in the line to inherit this land, yet I know nothing of it.
I feel that when I say that, I am a farm girl, diminishes those who work so hard to know the nature around them, to know how to cultivate it, or in Wendell’s words, to know how to converse with nature.
Wendell talks about a law that states, ” Land that is in human use must be lovingly used; it requires intimate knowledge, attention, and care.”
At this point in my life, I can honestly say that I could not tend to the land to the extent that my Father does now and I don’t know if I will be able to. My motivation to go back to the farm is very low. For so long I have been told to get an education and do better for myself then to live back home. I could have never predicted that it would be my education, my critical thinking, and my profs would subtly be pushing me back to the farm. Unfortunately that’s how I see it. That I would be working backwards. Talking to people who are still so captivated and blinded by the capitalistic and consumer culture, I too become blinded by greed. Through this cultural perspective, going back home would be seen as failure. I know in my heart that working with the land would have an ineffable spiritual value. My senses would connect to nature. I could learn to converse with nature… To learn and use all of my senses. So why!!! Why am I still so attracted to a culture that degrades and prevents the maturity of my mind and soul!!
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