Oh the things we do to the hands that feed us…

Posted: 7 May 2012 in Robert's Farm

These are not idle hands.  They are not the hands of privilege.  They are not the well-manicured hands of ease.

They are the hands pecked by protective hens as eggs are gathered from beneath them.  They are the hands that turn off irrigation water valves at 3 AM–plunged into the icy  mud to find the faucet.  They are the hands turned numb from pounding stakes to coax tomato plants to strive towards the sun.  They are the hands turned green from hacking out weeds by hand (organic means no chemicals).  They are the hands with dirt under the nails from plunging peat pots with their potential bounty of melons into the ground.

They are the hands of the family farmer.

They are hands we should shake–not the “cold fish” handshake of mere acquaintances–but the firm two-hand gripping kind of handshake reserved for those whom we love and respect.  They are hands we should kiss and caress. Hands we should hold in our own–press to our hearts.  These are the hands that feed us.

But they don’t just feed us.  Oh no.  They feed us while shepherding spare resources so that our children’s children’s children can benefit from the land that brings forth the bounty that benefits us all today.  They are the hands that stand in the breech between our hunger and our hope.

They are the hands we mangle, bite, shred and destroy even as we claim to care deeply about our brothers and sisters in the fields where they labor.

I know of a farm. I know of a farmer. His love for his land constrains his every decision.  I know a farmer who grows tired and maimed from the labor required to build a future-endowed farm.  I know a farmer’s wife who struggles to hold down two, three and four jobs to do the farm work, help pay the bills and figure out a way to provide medical care for the inevitable injuries and breakdowns that come with sustainable farm practices.

Ah yes… I know a farming family that may be undone because they cannot get the basic healthcare they need.

And I know the demagogues and the powerful of our land who trust that this inhuman thing we call the “unfettered hand of the market” will fill the need for health care that will keep the farming family supplied with the basics when a bone breaks, a respiratory ailment flares (farming is dusty work) or when old age causes all manner of failing systems. And I know others who tire of transferring their plenty (the burden of wealth is hard work) to ones such as these so the latter can continue to do that thing they are uniquely gifted to do.  I know those who disdain the poor family farmer–who call him/her and all poor a “net drain” on society, who refer  him/her as having an “entitlement” mentality.

Look at their hands… Oh the things we do to those hands.


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