I do not particularly like the word 'work.' Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.
Why Brownlee left, and where he went,Is a mystery even now.For if a man should have been contentIt was him; two acres of barley,One of potatoes, four bullocks,A milker, a slated farmhouse.He was last seen going out to ploughOn a March morning, bright and early.By noon Brownlee was famous;They had found all abandoned, withThe last rig unbroken, his pair of blackHorses, like man and wife,Shifting their weight from foot toFoot, and gazing into the future.
I flera hundra år hade hans förfäder sått säd. Det var en handling av andakt en tyst och mild, vindlös kväll, helst i ett litet beskedligt duggregn, helst så snart som möjligt efter det grågässen sträckt. Potatisen, det var en ny rotfrukt, det var inget mystiskt med den, inget religiöst, kvinnfolk och barn kunde vara med och sätta dessa jordpäron som kom från främmande land liksom kaffet, det var stor och präktig mat, men släkt med rovan. Säden, det var brödet. Säd eller icke säd, det var liv eller död. Isak gick barhuvad och sådde i Jesu namn. Han var som en vedkubb med händer på, men inom sig var han som ett barn. Han tänkte sig för vid varje kast, han var vänlig och undergiven. Se, nu gror nog dessa korn och blir ax och mera säd, och likadant är det över hela jorden när säd sås. I Palestina, i Amerika, i Gudbrandsdalen - å, vad världen var vid, och den lilla, lilla jordlapp som Isak gick och sådde låg i mitten av allt. Solfjädrar av säd strålade ut från hans hand. Himlen var mulen och blid, det såg ut att dra ihop sig till ett litet, litet duggregn.
I should understand the land, not as a commodity, an inert fact to be taken for granted, but as an ultimate value, enduring and alive, useful and beautiful and mysterious and formidable and comforting, beneficent and terribly demanding, worthy of the best of man's attention and care... [My father] insisted that I learn to do the hand labor that the land required, knowing--and saying again and again--that the ability to do such work is the source of a confidence and an independence of character that can come no other way, not by money, not by education.
As Gill says, "every man is called to give love to the work of his hands. Every man is called to be an artist." The small family farm is one of the last places - they are getting rarer every day - where men and women (and girls and boys, too) can answer that call to be an artist, to learn to give love to the work of their hands. It is one of the last places where the maker - and some farmers still do talk about "making the crops" - is responsible, from start to finish, for the thing made. This certainly is a spiritual value, but it is not for that reason an impractical or uneconomic one. In fact, from the exercise of this responsibility, this giving of love to the work of the hands, the farmer, the farm, the consumer, and the nation all stand to gain in the most practical ways: They gain the means of life, the goodness of food, and the longevity and dependability of the sources of food, both natural and cultural. The proper answer to the spiritual calling becomes, in turn, the proper fulfillment of physical need.
Over a long time, the coming and passing of several generations, the old farm had settled into its patterns and cycles of work - its annual plowing moving from field to field; its animals arriving by birth or purchase, feeding and growing, thriving and departing. Its patterns and cycles were virtually the farm's own understanding of what it was doing, of what it could do without diminishment. This order was not unintelligent or rigid. It tightened and slackened, shifted and changed in response to the markets and the weather. The Depression had changed it somewhat, and so had the war. But through all changes so far, the farm had endured. Its cycles of cropping and grazing, thought and work, were articulations of its wish to cohere and to last. The farm, so to speak, desired all of its lives to flourish.Athey was not exactly, or not only, what is called a "landowner." He was the farm's farmer, but also its creature and belonging. He lived its life, and it lived his; he knew that, of the two lives, his was meant to be the smaller and the shorter.