Voices: Inefficiency and Efficiency: Two Views of Farming

by Jim Spence '61

December 13, 2007

To lie down,
To relax every aching muscle
In legs, arms, back, neck, shoulders,
On soft sheets smelling of the rainwater
that washed them
And the breeze that dried them.
To let go of it all,
And breathe softly, gently,
And slip off into a restful, restoring sleep.
Such is the reward for a day well spent

Preparing to stoke fires against winter’s chill,
Or readying the soil for a summer garden’s
Or cleaning grain to store for seeding in
the spring,
Or stacking new hay in the mow to nourish
the pets
That once carried us about on their backs.
To lie down,

And to bathe in the comfort of resting
After doing our assignments for the day
Is a just reward.
I see my dog

Lying down in the cool grass
On a knoll where he can see me
Anywhere in the field,
After jogging beside me and the hay mower
Round after round.
Finished with his self-assigned task,
He chooses to lie down
And rest.
I notice the cows

Grazing and walking
About the pasture,
Then choosing tastier spots and grazing
some more.
They find the big oak in the middle
and lie down in its cooling shade,
And rest,
And chew their cuds.
And resting, make the milk I will enjoy so much
The old hens, the "biddies"

Walk and scratch,
Look left and right,
Peck up every bug seed,
Then go to lay their eggs.
At dusk, all scratching and laying done,
The biddies perch on their roosts,
Close their eyes,
And rest.
It is now nearly ten at night

And I will soon be stretched out on those sheets.
Just before I drift into unconsciousness
I wonder how it must feel
To be confined to a pen or cage
Of concrete or steel;
To never have known the spring grass
Or rain, or wind, or sun, or moon;
To have the daily ration delivered
And to take a step or two to eat,
And having eaten,
Awaiting the next feeding
Never to lie down
And rest.


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