Once upon a time there was a farmer. He was a dairy farmer, and the land he didn’t use for grazing he planted corn on. The corn he used to feed the cows. He ran a tight farm, and the house and barn always had a fresh coat of paint. Over the years he’d done well for himself.
One day a fella in a jalopy drove in and tried to sell the farmer on some sprays that would make his corn more plentiful. The farmer explained that he didn’t need to make the corn more plentiful because he planted enough for his herd. The man in the jalopy explained that the farmer could sell the extra corn and make money. It sounded good until the farmer asked how the spray might affect the milk. The man didn’t know, so the farmer said he’d think about it. He took the man’s card and never got back to him.
The fella called him up a few times, but the farmer wasn’t really interested. So the fella told him that progress was coming and he should be more forward-thinking. The farmer told him not to call again, because he had things to do.
A while later on, another fella in a big-finned car drove up and tried to sell the farmer on an injection that would make the farmer’s cows give more milk. It all sounded good until the farmer asked what might happen to the people who drank the milk. The fella didn’t know, and the farmer said he didn’t think he’d do that right now. The fella told him that was just backward thinking and he should know that progress was coming with or without him.
In a few years, the farmer’s competitors were making money on their corn and producing more milk. It was harder to make ends meet. The farmer thought about doing things differently, but it just didn’t seem right.
Then one day a bunch of long-haired folk pulled up in a VW bus. They wanted to buy some milk to make some yoghurt. The farmer thought that was a bit silly, but he agreed to sell them the milk.
One of the long-haired folk started asking the farmer if he used sprays or injected his cows. He told her that he didn’t spray the corn because he produced enough for the cows. He didn’t inject the cows because it didn’t seem right, and he used the cow manure to help fertilize the corn.
“So you mean it’s an organic farm, man?” said the long-hair, seemingly impressed. The farmer shrugged. After they left he had to look up the word, and still didn’t figure how they’d added a word to what he’d been doing all along.
More long-haired people came, and some settled up the road. They all came by and admired the farm. One of them told the farmer he was so forward-thinking. “You’re years ahead of the curve, man.”
A few years later the farmer was asked to teach some long-haired folks how to farm the way he’d been doing all his life. They called him a visionary, and a forward-thinker.
When he got home, the farmer told his wife that he figured he must have gotten so far behind progress that it had lapped him and he ended up in front again. They both laughed and went about doing what needed doing.
In honor of Maine’s Common Ground Fair: http://www.mofga.org/theFair
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