Back to Basics by Tom Black

Tom Black

As the world we knew just six months ago trembles with upheavals created by Covid 19, it makes one wonder if we will ever get back to normal. As a young boy growing up on a small, mixed farm where we basically grew everything that we ate, I could never have imagined how the world of agriculture would have scaled up to what it is now.

In those days we worked with horses. Looking back, I can see that there were several reasons why in the 1950’s, we didn’t have a tractor. The first reason was that my family had no money to buy one. The second reason was that my dad didn’t have any knowledge of tractors and was a little hesitant to learn something new, something I can now sympathize with as every time you get some new gadget, it comes with pages of confusing instructions that you have to try and figure out, just to be able to make it work. The third reason was that we had no tractor machinery to put behind the tractor. We did, however, have lots of horse machinery and good horses were cheap to buy because everyone else was buying tractors.

So now I think I know why we were a little behind in modernizing our farm operation, but looking back at that time I still would not want to have missed it because for every tough day that we had, there were so many more great days of working with family and nature. Until you have sat on the seat of a hay mower, pulled by a team of willing horses, with the creak of the harness and the tinkling of trace chains, the smell of the horses and the fresh cut hay plus the clack of the old steel wheeled mower, you can never appreciate how complete that world seemed to be.

Now that time, school and life lessons have changed how I view the world, I realize how safe I felt back then when my only worry for the day, was if I might hit a stone and break a knife. There was no internet, no computer, no T.V, or even hyped up radio talks show hosts bringing the woes of the world to our safe sanctuary back in the bush on a one car wide dirt road.

The past 50 years has seen a world that is running at such a fast pace, no one has ever really stopped to think of the basics. Family, friends, religion, food, shelter and health. That now has changed with this virus. People are at home with their kids, they are trying to keep up with friends on Zoom, having sermons in church parking lots or on the internet and just recognizing that there is more to life than the dollar.

For me, the biggest sign of hope for the future of people, is the instant natural instinct that so many people have to want to grow their own food. Now it seemed like a natural instinct to want to grow but not necessarily a natural instinct of how to grow. But that is OK because as anyone who has ever farmed knows, you are never done trying to learn from your mistakes and these newly spawned food growers will get good at growing their own food. The computer is full of YouTube videos, just a click away to help you find the answers, that in the not so distant past, would have come from a family of farmers.

I know eventually this crisis will pass and many will go back to the store for food, but hopefully there will be many more people who do continue to have hens and gardens, so that we retain that instinct to survive in this county.