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Practical Homeschooling® :

The Principle of Sowing and Reaping

By Lori Harris
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #30, 1999.

You reap what you sow.
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Lori Harris

Mama was a farmer. I don't think she even realized that fact until we were all grown, but all the things she loved best had to do with working the land and seeing the results of her work.

When I was a girl, we lived in the newly-developed suburbs, but neither she nor Daddy could handle this "moving up in the world" thing. We soon moved back to the country where she came from. My earliest memories of her are made up of her growing things outdoors. City slickers did "gentleman farmin'" in the house. A real farmer used the Almanac as his Bible and followed the seasons and moons that God has given.

She had grown up on an eighty-acre cotton farm, so to begin her five-acre garden every spring was no big deal. She would spend hours tilling and breaking up the ground from the winter and going through saved seed from the year before, finding the best and culling the not-so-good out. Swapping seed with other neighboring farmers like herself took lots of visiting and comparing notes. Next came the time-consuming process of planning where and what should be planted, then picking and sowing the seed. My after-school spring activities consisted of digging little holes on the hills and learning how to drop in just the right amount of seed, covering it just so, watering, and then waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting!

Through the heat of summer came the long hot job of hoeing, pruning, and weeding, and then picking all those vegetables. I hated those long East Texas summers! It meant cleaning and chopping and canning forever.

Ah, but then came the winter! As we would sit around the kitchen on cold winter nights and eat the hard work of our summer's labor, the toil of those days past did not seem quite so long or hot or hard. I didn't seem to remember not getting to do what I wanted when there was work to be done. I was just proud that I had helped put food on the table.

Becoming a farmer takes time. Learning about farming through books and seminars helps, but getting out and getting dirty is the best experience. Comparing notes with other farmers on planting and growth cycles, seasons and rotation, fertilizers, poisons, and even seed, seems to increase the choices, improve the quality, and make for a little friendly competition. But the only way the farm will produce is when someone gets out and works it and learns to follow the signs of the seasons. Farming can't be taught, it has to be felt. Learning to work the land takes heart. Direct labor must be exerted. You'll only reap a harvest by the end of summer if you've done hard work in spring. Working the soil requires hours of physical toil and plain old sweat. It isn't a magical thing to produce a crop that will feed a family. It's back-breaking work.

Homeschooling is a lot like farming. Some might experiment with homeschooling much like the "gentleman farmer." It may be something we want to try and it sounds a little interesting. We might have fun and even success with it for a while. But, like the gentleman farmer, it is only something to dabble in. Then some of us decide we want to be real farmers. We want to learn where our roots came from and restore something in our children that we didn't have ourselves. Those little plants we call children will get all of the planning, planting, hoeing, weeding, pruning, toil, labor, and love that we gentleman-farmer-turned-real-farners can cram into them. They also will be guinea pigs for every idea, teaching method, book, and gimmick our pocketbook can handle.

If we aren't led by the Spirit of the Lord, we can get caught up in the mentality that more is better and we have to do it by the book. Whose book? Who wrote the official guide anyway?

There is only one book that will get us through planting season. It will also produce a harvest of untold riches if we place this almanac as the source of everything our homeschooling years are to be. All of those "things" that we think we will have to have will fall into place or out if we let this Farmer's Almanac - the Bible - be our guide. Do you follow your Almanac? It is best read on your knees.

Mama was a farmer. All of her years of modeling the farmer's lifestyle have given me the roots and will to sow my own crop. My crop is a little different. It comes in the form of children but the application of the principles is the same. Sowing and reaping have their reward and I intend to reap the harvest. Thanks, Mama.

"... that we might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified." (Isa. 61:3)

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