An earlier post, Work work work, all day long, talked about how physical labor is freeing. I’d like to elaborate on that. Physical work, the kind that involves your brain and body, is freeing because it creates a self-reliant person. The man (I’m going to use man as substitute for human just because I want to. It’s not meant to offend or be misogynistic) who can fix his property is freed from depending on the repairman for service. Even better, he is freed from the consumer market because, while his counterpart who doesn’t have the knowledge of repair must buy a new product, the self-reliant can simply fix the old one.
To me, the person who embodies all of these qualities is the homestead farmer. Do not confuse farmer for the poor saps who drive enormous machinery and command vast acres of deserts masquerading as forest of corn and soy beans. Those fools are so indebted to the banks and federal government that they can never know freedom. In fact, they pass that same indebtedness to their children. They are slaves who think they are free.
The farmer I idolize is the one who raises enough crops and animals to feed his own and has enough left over to sell or barter with neighbors to get all of life’s other requirements. Look for the callous hands and crows feet from squinting into the sun and you’ll know what farmers I am talking about. They have sausage link fingers on the claws they call hands. They haven’t spent a day in a gym but they have the strength most gym rats would kill for. Spend a summer bailing hay and you’ll get a taste of the physicality needed to be a farmer. Spend a year planning for planting and harvest and you know the intelligence these people have.
Honestly, once I have the capital, both in monetarily and mentally, I will quit this rat race of journalism and take up a much more pastoral existence. Wanna join?
This post inspired by Wendell Berry, a fellow Kentuckian.