Thursday, July 28, 2011

What Would You Give In Exchange?

It's been a week of news and excitement around here, some good and some not so good. The gardens are producing abundantly and we are adding to the canning pantry shelves almost daily. I need to get a new seal for my pressure canner but Lehman's was sold out of them. The gal said that she could sell 24 seals each week but management insists on only ordering 6, supplying local people with what they truly need is not the goal of Lehman's unfortunately. So in the meantime we're limping along with the old seal and hoping it doesn't give up the ghost before the new one arrives.

The main news in the neighborhood is that Irvin, brother of the man who keeps his heifers here, was gored by a bull. The bull was known to be aggressive and they were getting ready to ship him, either to the livestock auction or to the butcher, I'm not sure which. The bull was in with the cows in the holding pen and Irvin went to bring another group of cows into the parlor when the bull got him. It smashed into him driving/throwing him backward where he broke a 2x6 with his face and neck. When he came to he saw that his cell phone was destroyed and his calls for help were unanswered so he unsteadily had to make his way through the cows to try to reenter the parlor. Which is where he was when the bull got him again. This time the bull gored his leg, threw him through the air and over a gate which, providentially, saved his life. He is recovering and will survive, farm people are made of tough stuff.

We also found out that our landlord is going to sell off the wooded portion of the farm we live on. This was fairly catastrophic news for us. We rely on the woodlot to heat our home, the boys hunt in it and we tap the sugar maples in the spring. Our days were numbered here anyway so we're trying to see this as good news in a roundabout way, but it's hard. So the search begins for a new place to hang our hat.

Our lawnmower blade broke a few weeks ago and the lawn has taken advantage of the situation to the utmost. The yard more closely resembled a hayfield than it did a yard but some neighbors showed up yesterday evening and mowed it for us. It was a beautiful sight this morning to see it looking all neat and trim! This weekend we're going to help other neighbors to clean up an old junkpile in the woods, many hands will make rapid work of an otherwise depressing job. So I've been thinking about community of late and how important it is to us. When I discover that I'm out of mustard seed, I know that my neighbor will have some that I can borrow because she cans too. When a different neighbor needs some men to help unload hay he knows that he can call us. If my neighbor has an abundance of pears she will drop them off here and likewise I will take her a peck of hot peppers when ours are in full swing. Where would we be without good neighbors? We buy our flour and sugar from a locally owned Amish bulk food store, we shop at a local hardware, buy workboots from an Amish shoe store and press our apples into cider at a community cider press. I can't imagine a better life than the one we lead, a place where you're known and people still make face to face relationships. I understand, in an abstract way at best, that city life and "anonymity" is attractive to some people, but what are they giving up in exchange? What is the true cost of being able to do as you please and nobody cares about your business if those same people could watch you beaten to death outside your door and wouldn't even call 9-1-1?

People were better off I believe when there was less mechanization and they had to rely on each other. The industrial age has freed men from much of the work necessary to maintain life, we work less hours and at easier jobs than ever before in history and yet we're so unsatisfied. We feel the need to escape from a life that somehow lacks a point and purpose. Lack of meaningful work means a lack of purpose; if my only point in life is to wake up and go to my meaningless job so that I can exchange *life* for money, what am I gaining? The yearly vacation, "getting away from it all", is what keeps them going year after year. And I can't help but look on that with sadness, that can't be the purpose of life, can it? I believe that it's a symptom of what happens when we lose touch with what God intended for man, which is a life of hard meaningful work and neighbors to care about us and to help each other. I would like to encourage everyone to build relationships where you are, whether it be in the city or country. Be important to enough people that when you die your absence will be a loss. It's easy to romanticize the past and wish we could have what they had, but I truly believe that with effort we can still move closer to that ideal. It's an exchange though, "what I want when I want" must be replaced by "is this for the good of everyone or just me?" It's a completely different mindset than the one most of us grew up with but I believe the exchange is a good one.


  1. I so agree. The song goes "This is your life are you who you want to be?"

    Family, friends, neighbors, they are the people that know us, love us and miss us when we aren't around. I like small communities. I am NOT a big city girl.
    Robin from the Roost

  2. Paris, I wish you could have been in on the conversation I had just the other night with an old co-worker friend of Patty's about something very close to what you wrote about in your last paragraph. In fact, I told this person numerous opinions of mine and she became rather agitated with me. One day you and I can converse about the subject - I am very interested in your opinion as well. (Yes, I am being vague as to not start any "wars" with your other readers)

    Anyhow, as for your third paragraph - - might heart is aching for you and your family. I know how strong you and Gill are - and I know your faith is every bit as strong - but I also know how much you love living there. You all will be in my prayers.

  3. I agree - we all need to learn more about relying on neighbors. We crave community, even if we don't realize it. We're wired to have community.

    I know what you mean about looking at a change in life as good news...and hopefully new adventures. Keith just announced he wants to move to Montana. Not sure what to do with that yet, but I pray for guidance. So much would change, and I would have to give up so much -- including my being able to be close to my family. But maybe there's a new adventure waiting. Who knows. It's scary. I will be praying for you to find a nice new place to live.

  4. Wow Amy, Montana? Mr. G had a thing for Montana for years but the only place we could afford was in the eastern half of the state where you have major water issues. We've tossed around Maine for a number of years but Ohio really suits me well. We have great home school laws (not as good as Texas though), you can drive junky uninspected vehicles, the weather is reasonable and best of all the whole community/self sufficiency infrastructure is here already. There are so many people, Amish and otherwise, living outside of the Wal-Mart type economy that living our lifestyle is easier than in other places where we'd be a far more weird than we are here. We still have a vibrant small farming framework, vibrant downtowns and affordable real estate, especially in the southern part of the state. Plus, *I'm* here and you know, you can't find that just anywhere! lol :D



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