Tao of the farm – Principle number 24: “Some low life will steal you chainsaw.”

After this month’s livestock auction on Saturday morning, we stopped off at the farm on the way home. I noticed that the front door of the cottage, which is off its hinges for painting, was lying flat on the floor of the cottage. Normally it’s propped up in the door frame. It had been quite windy on Friday so, I dismissed it, but could not help to feel a little suspicious. I unlocked the store room, immediately looking for the chainsaw. I looked high and low scratching through boxes and unlikely places in some kind of denial and disbelief.  It is nowhere to be found. Mandoza says he last used it on Thursday. He suspects the casual labourer that we employed the week before. A guy called “Sticks”

The door to the storeroom was not forced open, it had been opened with a key and the key had been returned to its normal hiding place. Mandoza thinks that Sticks may have seen the hiding place for the keys. Anyway, I am really upset. I am angry that we have thieves moving around on the farm, I am angry with myself for not being more vigilant with security and I am worried that I now have to find money to replace this piece of equipment that I really liked. In this soup of emotions that are now still floating through my brain as I write this on Monday morning in the coffee shop just up the road from my office. As I sit here in the smoky interior with the familiar seventies music soothing softly in the background, I struggle to remind myself of Law of the farm number 24: “Some low life will steal your chainsaw” Or as some American hippy once said “shit happens”. The mongoose will eat your hens, the bubbler in your Tilapia tank will fail, ticks will infest your cattle. These setbacks are constants. They will happen. The extent to which they happen and the degree of damage they cause may be variable, but they will happen. I try to console myself with the truth of this law. It helps a little, but maybe tomorrow I will be OK. Maybe tomorrow I will come to see that we have become softened by the illusion of comfort offered to us by our lives. Perhaps I will come to see that we are lead to believe that nothing can go wrong. Everything happens at the flick of a switch. Even here in South Africa, and especially if you are urban and middle-class, you may go through very long periods of time where nothing ever goes wrong. The bottle store never runs out of beer, the soccer is on the television every Saturday, the mall keeps it opening times as advertised and the lotto draw happens as scheduled every weekend. When things go wrong, they are small, they are temporary and we are shielded from the crisis, by layers of government and corporate structures. When the farmer’s potato crop is destroyed by a swarm of locusts, we somehow magically still get our Lays lightly salted from the all night convenience store. The massive corporate chain makes sure they import potatoes from some other part of the province or some other part of the world, we do not so much as notice a difference in crispness of our favourite snack. 

Everything we consume is in this way filtered to be free of risk, to the extent that when our restaurant scrambled eggs aren’t exactly the correct degree of softness, we feel completely obliged and entitled to feel miserable and to throw a tantrum. What I am saying is that governments and corporations have very effectively come to create the illusion that rule of the farm number 24 does not exist. It does. Some low life will steal your chainsaw, and the sooner you (and I) wake up an begin to live and plan our lives according to this law, this non-negotiable constant, the sooner we can be more closely aligned with the way things work. Delusion may be comfortable, but making peace with the brutal truth brings us into closer union with the universe and its laws. And in this way we make ourselves free, not by selling ourselves into slavery to pay for the cost of the triple insurance premiums of comfort, safety and security.

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.

2 thoughts on “Tao of the farm – Principle number 24: “Some low life will steal you chainsaw.””

  1. I'm in Redhouse PE. My son and I have just started Geoff Lawton's online course. My son is already a certified PDesigner but he knows there's so much more to learn. Many around that can give you guidance re your farm. Not too late to register – closes tomorrow or Sat, I think. http://www.geofflawton.com/sp/13753-sales-page My tel 041 463 3316 or 0828575755 All the best, Hugh


  2. Thanks Hugh. I enjoy Geoff Lawton's work and would very much like to do his online course. Not right now though. (got to get my life a little more organised)

    But, thanks for the “headsup”


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