Wednesday, March 19, 2014


The skies are pale gray. Taupe colored.

The mountains ringing our little town are shrouded. A fuzzy silhouette with smudgy edges.

I have a catch in my throat and my eyes are gritty.

A newscast shared that drought in eastern Colorado and western Kansas was causing dust storms that went down the Texas panhandle, through eastern New Mexico and down to our part of west Texas.

I wonder if there are fields being plowed right now by large production farms in that part of the world?

Not too long ago we had a similar dust storm. The dirt in the sky was red. Coincidentally (?) the timing was right about when the fields were plowed up in and around the Texas panhandle.

Every time I get a mouthful and eyeball full of dirt suspended in our air, I am reminded of a little book I read while researching sustainable farming. <i>Plowman's Folly written by Edward Faulkner and published in 1943.

His book was revolutionary, and you can imagine that people who lived through the dust bowl might have been paying attention to his "revolutionary" ideas regarding soil husbandry. I remember that as I read that book, I was astounded by how pertinent, how relevant the material was, and how I wished we could see those ideas implemented more here in the US. I thought about that book a couple of springs ago when we drove through Lamesa and saw acres and acres of bare, red soil, plowed and ready to be sown in monocrops of cotton.

Thankfully, many people have woken up, and realize that we cannot keep on sucking things out of our soil, in return for a handful of isolated nutrients. We cannot keep on plowing up the land, watching it blow away and land on my windowsills, my glasses, my car. The other day my parents told me about their friend who has wheat farms up in Kansas. He doesn't use a regular plow. He tends his fields, using equipment he invented, working to save his topsoil.

It isn't all bad. There are others like my parents' friend. There are government initiatives, working to educate farmers to help improve their soil, not watch it all blow away. There are more and more farmers going small, since going small might be the only way they can survive. Heck, going small might just be the only way our earth is going to survive.

Hmm. I can smell the roasted turnips from our SMALL garden roasting away. I can hear the SMALL flock of birds growing by the minute, out in our little greenhouse. And I have big ideas that nibble around the edge of my brain, and small amounts of sit down time to fully think them through. But maybe if I sketch out some of those thoughts, I can come back to them later.

Maybe I will watch the Ken Burn's documentary on the Dust Bowl tonight. And hope that our little baby steps will amount to something. And pray one of the wonderful prayers in our Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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