Fellowship of Christian Farmers
By Kevin Cernek
April 12, 2020
I got the rototiller out the other day and tilled the garden. It sat in the machine shed all winter, but still started on the second pull. It’s one of those tines in back tiller. You can hold on to it with one hand and walk beside it while it tills so as not to leave footprints in the freshly churned soil. (Spoiler alert: it’s not always that simple but it looks good in the magazine advertisements). My wife was out there last week on that 70 degree day getting her seeds in the ground. The next day it hailed. The day after that it snowed.
The rhubarb started growing then it froze and shriveled up to nothing, now it’s growing again. That is one hardy plant. I mow it off at ground level every fall not caring if it comes back or not, and every spring it’s back stronger than ever and is impossible to keep up with. We cut it off, chop the stems into inch size pieces and freeze them. There’s nothing like a “fresh” rhubarb/strawberry pie in the dead of winter. What did they do before freezers? (I should have asked my grandfather).
The smell of the freshly tilled soil triggered all kinds of emotions taking me all the way back to my grandpa’s days. Gramps was the hardest working man I’ve ever known. He worked the swing shift at the steel mill for 31 years while helping my dad on the farm in the morning until midafternoon. Vacations and weekends were spent planting corn, making hay, and teaching his grandkids what mattered in life. I can still see him driving down the lane in his Chevy Impala. He was a little man, and that huge car was a bit oversized for someone of his stature – but certainly not for his legacy.
Well, it’s April. That means between the rain, hail, and snowstorms, we are back in the field doing what we do best. Back in the day it meant getting the plows hooked up. For us it was a five bottom plow behind our Farmall 706 and 4-16’s behind our 560. People told us our 706 didn’t have enough power to pull 5-16’s. We told them to tell that to our 706.
We aren’t John Deere people, but if we were, I would make a t-shirt with a picture on the front of it with a John Deere tractor pulling a three bottom plow. Below the picture I would have the words: John 3 – 16’s. And on the back, I would have the Bible verse John 3:16 spelled out. Trouble is, nobody after my generation would get the humor.
When we hooked up our plows behind those two tractors, if we got started right after the morning milking, we could plow more than 60 acres in one day. Those were good times as a kid growing up.
Today, we mostly no-till everything so it requires some time waiting for the ground to dry out and the soil temps to warm up. But we get out there as early as we can to get our oats and alfalfa seed in the ground.
When it comes to farmers, they tend to speak a language all their own. You may have heard it said that you: sow oats, seed alfalfa, drill beans, and plant corn. It’s funny because it’s all the same thing. We are putting seeds in the ground, expecting them to grow.
Someone asked me the other day if we were going to plant corn this year. I said, “Why wouldn’t we?” He said, “Because of the coronavirus.” I said: “Faith and optimism are the outlook of every farmer in the spring of every year.” Afterall, we take a 300 dollar bag of dead seeds, bury them in the ground, walk away, and expect them to grow. We trust God to send the rain, the sunshine, and the warm weather.
If you think about it, over a 3 to 4 month growing period in the summer months, (90 days is all that’s needed for corn to mature), God has made it possible for us to grow enough food to feed all of our animals, plus an additional 155 people in one year. In 1930 that number was 4.
James 5:7-8: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
Psalm 127:1-2: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”
While we hurry around to do our work, up early, retire late, day after day after day, the Psalmist is telling us that God is the one who determines: a) what the harvest will be. And: b) while we do everything we can in the hours of the day God has given us, even while we sleep, God is working on our behalf to accomplish what we cannot. We can rest in peaceful sleep at night, knowing God is working on behalf of His beloved even while we sleep.