The Fishmaster, my thirteen-year-old rising 8th grader, won an honorable mention in a county-wide essay contest. Here’s his answer to the question What is a farmer?, printed with his permission.

A farmer is an apprentice of the land. He learns everything he knows from the land itself. It teachers him patience, the very patience which is needed for his seed to sprout in the Spring. It teaches him thankfulness and to be thankful for the tiny miracle of life given to him by the land which grows right under his very feet. Most of all, it teaches him love and to be loving to the land and its God, through which all things are planted, grown, and harvested. A farmer’s land is like a good algebra teacher; it doesn’t give you the answer, but it shows you how to get pretty close.

A farmer knows fully well that, without his land, he would be nothing. Everything he earns, his land gives to him. He would not be able to provide food for himself or his family, water his fields, or feed his animals. He must repay the land, Mother Nature, and God for their wonderful efforts to bring a Fall’s harvest by treating them all with respect, dignity, and love. In truth, everything farmers earn is because of their land and how well it is kept. A field that is irrigated, fertilized, and is healthy will produce far more than one that is less well kept.

The first task man was entrusted with by God, was to farm, as said in Genesis. This task of farming should, therefore, be cherished and preserved. The land and earth, which are gifts bestowed by God, should be treaded with the highest repect and love from the agrarian world. If a farmer expects to gain a fall’s harvest, he must show appreciation for the plants, animals, and the entire Earth itself. Just as an apprentice learns who he can be from his Master, so does a farmer learn from the land.

And here is the Fishmaster reciting a poem on middle school commencement day. Every child in the school memorizes a poem for this day. Well, actually they memorize them all year and recite them to the class, but this is the Big Deal One. The Fishmaster’s is kind of quirky, but I think he recites it with great oratory skills. Plus, I love his handsome new teenagery self and deep voice.

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