Tao of the Farm – Principle number 17: “You can do it alone, but its better with family”

As I write this I am sitting at the table inside the “long room“ in the farm cottage It’s a warm summer Sunday afternoon and we have been here since lunch time yesterday. But what makes this weekend different is that my family is here with me. You see, the cottage has now been repaired to the point where it is now just about weather proof. (Depending on exactly where in the cottage you stand during a rain storm) The cottage also has running water, lights that switch on and off and toilet that flushes.  (all off grid I am proud to say) These simple conveniences make it possible for my wife, my daughter, my sister in law and her son to stay over with me at the farm last night. It was the first time for my wife to sleep over here, so I count it as a bit of a milestone. The thing is though, it just feels better to me for me to be going about my chores, moving the cattle, feeding the chickens or watering the fruit trees with my wife and family here on the farm. Yes we had a fun braai outside last night and a pleasant breakfast this morning, but for the most part it’s just about knowing that we are here together, not necessarily that we are having deep, meaningful conversation or helping each other physically. When, as I have been doing for over a year now,  I work on the farm over the weekends leaving my family at home in town, it feels different. It feels more rushed, strained perhaps. As if though a part of me feels that I am stealing time from them. I don’t know. I have not consciously recorded thinking that I am stealing time, it’s just that when we are here together allowing time to pass slowly together, it just feels so much better, It feels very right. It feels as if though it were meant to be. So perhaps this too is a lesson from the farm, one of the laws of the farm, that are true to the farm, but true also to our civilisation.
Let’s think about this a little. Because the idea of family and its “usefulness” seem in some parts of the world to have become caught up in politics of  polarity , where the term “family values” have become used as a code to mean, conservative, male dominated and religious. I am not talking about that here. Rather what I am observing is and process of evolution, where our species has grown to become strong and prosperous by holding together in tight family groups. Other species have evolved in such a way so as to make them highly successful to live alone for the most part. On the farm here we often see bushbuck. Sometimes a big impressive grey black male, will reveal himself for a few seconds before bounding off into the forest. At other times the female will peer through the shrubs, smaller and brown. We have not yet seen them together. It seems bushbuck are quite successful at living apart from each other for most of the time. But the ducks that visit the dam, are always in a family group. Sometimes there are four of them together, other times just two. I have not yet seen a lone duck on the dam. Ducks seem to be family birds.
Of course, humans have big brains and an impressive amount of will power, we can chose to do many things that may go against our evolutionary programming. We would live completely by ourselves ad we have proven it. Every now and then there is some record broken of how some brave person has circumnavigated the globe single handed in a yacht, even smaller than the previous brave person who did so. Of course it’s possible. What I am working on though in my own life, is to observe in me, what are the “laws” what is my evolutionary programming? In order that I can embrace it and work with it.  In order that I can understand when I feel down or lonely that it is probably that I am feeling removed from my family. And by contrast, perhaps the reason Or maybe one of the reasons)  I am feeling right now that I am feeling energised and reconnected with farm and with my life and with my mission is that I feel I am together in this with my family. We are on a joint mission. We are working together. We work at different speeds and we need different things to make us comfortable and relaxed, but we are all on the same mission.

Author: Tim Hewitt-Coleman

The World can be a better place.... But how? Taking the debate beyond the political, beyond the theoretical into the real economy, into the physical and spatial dimension where cities, landscapes and livelihoods take form.

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