In Google Search of the Old Farmer’s Prayer

cotton crop in arkansas

Mom, dad and me, happy, and celebrating one of the best cotton crops we ever had in 1992.

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it, and keep it.” ~ Genesis 2:15

***

From an analytical standpoint, one of the things I enjoy most about blogging is the daily report indicating “search terms” punched into the engines that ultimately lead readers to my archives.

Since launching www.stevenwwatkins.com back in January, it’s been no contest among the terms searched that lead readers here.

It’s “the farmer‘s prayer.”

Readers from the world’s every continent have searched “farmer’s prayer” and found this blogsite. And when they did so, they read about my dad. For me, that’s an honor, and it carries great reward.

famers prayer

I asked dad to pose for this shot, and he reluctantly agreed, but you can see just how proud he is. It’s the most relaxed I’ve ever seen him during the harvest.

It’s ironic, a bit melancholy, and still yet rewarding.

You see, after taking leave as a writer for nearly two years, it was my dad’s passing that compelled me to begin writing once again. The circumstances of his death and the “religious” blasphemy to which he was exposed welled up inside my own soul, and there were just too many things that had to come out.

So I turned to the blog.

***

Daddy was a farmer. It’s all he ever wanted to be. And he was a pretty decent farmer. Most of my life’s lessons were learned in a cotton patch right by his side.

When he died, our family wanted to honor his love for the land, and we composed a slide show video of a series of photos I took in 1992 – the harvest of one of his most successful cotton crops. It was a Sunday afternoon, and as I remember, among the happiest days of his life.

The last slide in the the video makes me cry every single time. It’s as if he’s saying: “I’m leaving now, but I’ll see you again soon.”

***

Over the last three weeks, I’ve thought a lot about my dad, the farmer. It’s the first harvest he never saw. We took a diversion from our typical cotton crop this year and planted 120 acres of the finest soybeans I’ve ever seen. The yield was high, and the price was good.

me checking soybean depth

Me, earlier this spring, checking the seed depth on our soybean crop near Monette, Arkansas. I’ve seen my dad do this thousands of times, so I stopped to do it, too.

In fact, it surpassed the finest cotton crop we ever farmed. Daddy would never have believed it.

My best friend’s dad was a farmer, too. He’s been gone for 10 years now. Brady and I talk of our dads often. Because of the good crops we’ve had in recent years, we like to think our dads are still taking care of us as they always did.

We like to say we own X number of acres. Not really. God grants us the wonderful opportunity, but for a time, to be the caretakers of His land. We pray that we care for it well, and use it to glorify His name.

When Daddy became a farmer, his prayers were answered. I’m thankful he and my mom and my grandmother, and the many ancestors that preceded them, taught me a love of the land.

It was a good crop this year, dad. Thanks for sending it our way. I love and miss you, and I’m so proud of you.

THE FARMER‘S PRAYER

“Old farmers never die, they just go to seed.” ~ unknown

***

Time just keeps moving on

And many years have come and gone

But I grow old without regret

My hopes are in what may come yet.

On the farm I work each day

This is where I wish to stay

I watch the seeds each season sprout

From the soil as the plants rise out.

I study nature and I learn

To know the earth and feel her turn

I love her dearly in all her seasons

For I have learned her secret reasons.

All that will live in the bosom of the earth

She is the loving mother of all birth

When my body is old and spent

And my soul to Heaven has went.

Please compost and spread me on this plain

So my body Mother Earth can claim

That is where I wish to be

Then nature can nourish new life with me.

So do not for me grieve and weep

I didn’t leave, I only sleep

I am with the soil here below

Where I can nourish life of beauty and glow.

Here I can help the falling rain

Grow golden fields of ripened grain

From here I can join the winds that blow

And meet the softly falling snow.

-30-

A Delta Prayer

Sunset on the Arkansas Delta

Across the azure sky you grace, southeast to slight northwest,

You pass above the fertile land, and we hope the very best.

A litte rain is all we ask,

To help the crop bear yield,

This is what we love to do, for our livelihood’s in the field.

Checking on our soybean crop earlier this Spring. My wife surprised me with this photo she took from the truck.

So stir up mighty clouds, oh sun,

Bring thunderheads Delta’s way,

All we ask is a little rain, so the farmers can have another day.

We pledge our best to love the land,

For caretakers is all we are,

We’re reminded who really owns the land, when we see the evening stars.

A little rain is all we ask,

Dear Lord, as we close this day,

And we pledge to give you the honor and praise,

For Your’s is the only Way.

Things are looking great, so far.

So we thank  you for the rain to come,

And for the sun we give thanks too.

We put our crops in Your dear hand,

And count our blessings, through and through.

Days… and My Dad

“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” ~ Psalm 90:12

It’s now been 143 days since my dad died.

Dad spent 1,461 days in the National Guard.

He lived to be 25,984 days old. Strange thing to put a finite number of days on a man’s life … Doesn’t seem long does it?

As of today, July 16, 2012, I am 16,928 days old. Looking at those numbers puts a certain perspective on a man’s life.

To the best of my calculations, somewhere around day 11,322 of his life, my dad became a farmer. Dad’s days defined him as many things, but, foremost, he was a farmer.

On day 18,563 of his life, dad called me. The days of harvest were getting into full swing. He said to me: “You’ve got to get over here son. You’ve got to see this cotton harvest. We may never have another crop this good.”

Duck hunting provided many good days in my dad’s life. This was a good day.

Two days later, I joined him on the farm – with a camera – to record what he imagined to be a historic day. Together we shot photos for the entire day.

The day after dad died, I compiled the still photos into the video you see below. The photos shot on this day record what might very well have been the best day of his life.

The next day, we showed the video at his funeral – as a tribute to him. It helped make an otherwise sad day, a happy one.

If you read the Bible, take a look some time at Genesis 2:15. I construe a certain message from that verse. I believe that on the 8th day, God Made a Farmer.

Today, dad lives in a place where the restriction of time and day matters no more. He lives in the eternal light of the never-ending day.

A typical day in my dad’s life with his trademark Dickies and toothpick.

Whatever your relationship with your dad might be today, I hope you’ll take stock, and enjoy the days ahead.

Days matter.

And so does your dad.

Here’s the video. Watching this makes MY day.

The Old Farmer’s Prayer

Old farmers never die, they just go to seed.” ~ unknown

My dad, who passed away in February, looking over one of the best cotton crops he ever had in the early 1990s.

A Farmer’s Prayer…

Time just keeps moving on

And many years have come and gone

But I grow old without regret

My hopes are in what may come yet.

On the farm I work each day

This is where I wish to stay

I watch the seeds each season sprout

From the soil as the plants rise out.

I study nature and I learn

To know the earth and feel her turn

I love her dearly in all her seasons

For I have learned her secret reasons.

All that will live in the bosom of the earth

She is the loving mother of all birth

When my body is old and spent

And my soul to Heaven has went.

Please compost and spread me on this plain

So my body Mother Earth can claim

That is where I wish to be

Then nature can nourish new life with me.

A good stand of soybeans at our farm in Monette, Arkansas. This is the first crop my dad hasn’t seen in 31 years.

So do not for me grieve and weep

I didn’t leave, I only sleep

I am with the soil here below

Where I can nourish life of beauty and glow.

Here I can help the falling rain

Grow golden fields of ripened grain

From here I can join the winds that blow

And meet the softly falling snow.

My mom, me and dad in the midst of our livelihood. We never were Farm Family of the Year, but the farm gave us a good life.

Here I can help the sun’s warm light

Grow food for birds of gliding flight

I can be in the beautiful flowers of spring

And in every other living thing.

So do not weep for me and cry,

I am here,

I did not die.