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Faith and farming

By Janie Corley
“Have you checked the forecast?”
“(There’s a) 20 percent — no, wait. Now it shows 60 percent chance of rain. Oh, now it says the rain chances are gone ‘til next Thursday.”
It’s the endless “game” we play. It’s time to plant pumpkins and as soon as the seeds are planted chemicals must be sprayed for weed prevention and it must be done before the seeds sprout. If rains come quickly, seeds can sprout before we can drive through the field to spray. Yet, we need rain to come soon after we spray to activate the chemical and be sure it does the job we need it to do. It doesn’t feel so much like a fun game at times. Even the best forecasters can’t predict a random shower that pops up, and they can’t predict the 30 percent who misses the rain showers and the other 70 percent that gets rain … So how do you know when to plant? It’s a matter of faith.
As farmers, we research the best seeds, the most beneficial fertilizers and the chemicals that provide the balance of weed and pest prevention that are the least harmful to consumers. We consider the crop rotations that provide the best yield and invest in the best equipment we can afford to maximize planting, spraying, irrigating and harvesting. It seems to be a precise science. And yet it’s still a matter of faith.
Then, the season comes when we know we’ve purchased the right seed and used all the correct chemicals and fertilizers. The rains come at the perfect time and it’s time for harvest. Then, disaster strikes.
In 2006, we did all of the right things. The field almost glowed with these beautiful orbs of orange, but, as we began to pick them, we realized that something wasn’t quite right. In a just a few days, the orange fruit melted into a puddle — rotting almost immediately. Upon further inspection, we realized each pumpkin had a white spot on its underside that soon turned into a cancerous rotten spot. The entire field was ruined. A disease occurred in our soil, doing the damage of a hailstorm on a peach crop, a windstorm on a wheat crop or a flood that obliterates an entire field of corn. We learned all of our fields were contaminated. All the precision of a well-planted crop was for naught, or so it seemed.
The scientists at the University of Kentucky told us the cure for pumpkin crop disease: Don’t plant in that field for several years. But, being a U-pick pumpkin farm, that remedy seemed impossible. Without knowing our plight, a neighbor offered to let us use some of her land, which we did for a few years. She will never fully know how she increased our faith as we waited for our land to heal.
So, here we are nine years from that failed crop. As we plant new seeds in the warm soil, the reality rings true: We farmers can do absolutely nothing to make that seed grow. We can’t stop a drought, we can’t prevent a flood and we can’t control a tornado. For us, we can do nothing to be certain this disease is gone, except to have faith.
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
So how do we keep doing it? By asking for more faith.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

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