On Fukuoka


“I do not particularly like the word ‘work.’ Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.”
~ Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution 


Masanobu Fukuoka has probably been my deepest agricultural influence, followed by Wes Jackson. So many others have influenced me: Wendell Berry, J. Russell Smith,  Rhonda Janke from K-State, Pramod Parajuli from Nepal and Prescott, AZ.. I also have to acknowledge many others: local friends and acquaintances who farm and garden in the high desert and around the world.

But it was One Straw Revolution that truly set me on the path I’m on today. I think as I approach my winter season of unemployment, I must sit down and read through the book one more time.

I had forgotten the quotation above until I saw it on a FaceBook friend’s page. This very idea has been playing across my mind for a long time, especially over the last few months. I find my heart and soul heading in this direction no matter how my mind tries to pull me back to “sensible thinking.” I have actually been living “doing what needs to be done,” for the last two and a half years. But I’ve been doing it under duress. Now is the time to change course and understand how to do it with joy.

I have a set of sensible projects already listed out for my winter time of scarcity and unemployment.  My kids have some plans too, all of them freeing and joyful. There are so many strong reasons these kids are in my life. I can only hope I give back to them half as much as they extend to me.

I will probably carry on with my sensible projects. One is a promise to a mentor. One is a promise to my farmstead.  Given the nature of high desert farming it is subject to change and modification (long story short, I want bees and more trees).

As for doing what needs to be done, I’m going to be all in. I am all in.  This could transform a season of worry and a yearly cycle of fear into more beauty and more joy.

Snow Buddha

Snow Buddha


About rainshadowfarm

West Virginia hillbilly girl grown up. Grew up in northern Ohio. Farmer from birth. Working class academic. Practical agroecologist. Community educator. Single parent of eight. I also teach anthropology at a community college. I like this work and think it's worth doing and doing well. California community college students are some of the most incredible students I have ever known.
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