“We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land …” This hymn reminds me of the days of harnessing horses, ploughing straight lines, green crops growing and then later seeing the stooks of hay and a dusty harvester with no cab for the driver. Gone are those nostalgic days, they are replaced with a fast paced “no-till, spray, fertilise and seed” in one smooth operation. Later huge stacks of hay appear in the paddocks and air-conditioned headers are prepared for harvest.
Our tractors are in the paddock attempting to finish seeding before the days get shorter and the ground is still warm. With the rain we have had, the ground has a good start for moisture to swell the seed and the plants to push up the soil. Watching plants grow reminds me that God is providing my daily bread. A tractor or the fuel to run the machine doesn’t make seed grow. The fertiliser, chemicals, seeder, and roller help put the seed in the best possible position to grow, but they can’t make the grain grow into the tall bright green plant with the promise of an excellent yield at harvest.
Mixed farming is another way of saying “let’s fill in all the gaps”, so there is no time for a break. We irrigate lucerne throughout the summer and our sheep start lambing in the autumn while we sow the crops; shearing in the winter and making hay in the spring, ready for harvest before Christmas, and the cycle of farm life starts again. I continue the ritual of storing the household harvest by preserving fruit, making jam and sauce for another year. I love the yummy smells that come from the kitchen. Eating is one of my favourite things to do, often not thinking of the source, or the hard work to grow and cook it!
A friend of ours said he wanted to be a farmer because it looked like an easy way of life, no stress, just drink coffee and talk with the neighbour while God takes care of the crop growing!
Farming can have disappointments too. Farmers 30 kilometres away had half the rain we received; frost hit some crops at a critical time destroying any grain that was forming in the head. A young farmer took his own life shortly before harvest and Christmas, which shocked our community. Fires and floods take away our livelihood so suddenly.
Sharing our daily bread with others in tough times is God’s masterstroke, it helps those receiving to be thankful but also reminds us to be thankful for where we live and everything we need for our life.
On the farm, I do have quiet moments when I reflect on God’s gifts of daily bread. This is not just food and clothes, but our way of life on the farm, the good people we meet and work with, a place to live, bring up children, and grandchildren to love. With good friends, helpful neighbours, health, and a peaceful country, God has given us so much more than we think to ask for. I see this as the gift of daily bread, and I am so thankful for it.