Saturday, February 4, 2012
Casting Seeds on a January Snow
- There is a small stretch of land just north of my country farmhouse that begs for improvement. Last year I solicited help from my sons to tear down an old outbuilding that stood in that spot for some sixty years. It had become fixed in our minds as a part of the farmyard, so it was jolting to see it gone. The scar that resulted from the removal of the foundation has begged for someone to restore earthly dignity.
Since I try to nurture the wildlife around the area, I thought I should plant some quail-supporting native grasses and wildflowers that would have grown there when that space was native prairie. I waited all last summer for the rainy season so I could broadcast seeds, but last year was a drought year.
The surface soil in that area is still poor and we still wait for rain, but I have a plan given to me by some successful old farming friends. “First,” they tell me, “you want to mix the native seeds with some red clover. The clover will sprout quickly and protect the slower sprouting native seeds. Second, you want to throw the seed mixture out on the January snow and let the thawing action work with the moisture to set the roots.”
Of course, I asked the expert, Dr. Google, to verify this advice, and sure enough, it seems to be a good farming practice. In that search, I found more scriptural references to casting seed than those of a scientific nature and spent considerable time that afternoon going through the farming and agricultural foundation of many stories and parables of the Bible. A farming context, it seems, made stories understandable for the people of that day.
Farming has always been an industry closely connected to God. We may think we have the science of farming in our control, and these days do some pretty fancy seed manipulation, but when it comes to growing plants, we still find that it is not the one who plants, waters or fertilizes, but God, who makes things grow.My grandfather was quick to credit the crop to his higher power. As he brought in his grain, he was sure to say it was by “the grace of God and back-breaking work” that he brought in a crop. Unlike him, my livelihood doesn’t depend on these seeds, but I never tire of the miracle of growth. Come a January snow, I will cast them.