June 28, 2013
Last spring a kid was born on the Farm. Well, a lot of kids were born. But one in particular, the third of three, smaller than the other two came mid-morning, mid-week. We had seen similar babies in the past, a runt, sorta thrifty, and a great desire to live. But desire doesn’t get you far when mom has two teats and your siblings are larger than you. The result, as the result always is, the runt struggles to get a good meal. This means the runt seldom gets a good meal and is always the first to begin eating grass. This wouldn’t be bad, except their stomachs are not quite ready for it, so even though they begin grazing, it doesn’t do much for them and they remain runty.
I grew up with Charlotte’s Web. A great story, but a story of ideal. Wilbur is a newborn runt piglet, saved from death by Fern. Wilbur ends up growing grows up to be a great hog. However, the story is fantasy and reality seldom has a good ending. Runts most never have a good life. They are always fighting for the next meal and even with the best of care, die deaths that are seldom good deaths. The reason why the farmer was going to put Wilbur down was because he knew there are times death is more humane than life. The reason he was talked out of it was not because of Fern, but because he hoped for good life every bit as much as Fern and, like most farmers, would a whole lot rather take a chance at life than have to kill life.
Such was life last spring with the runt kid. Unlike Wilber though, the runt has struggled ever since. Mom took good care of him, but that did not make life easy. However, he has made it four months and today he is the size of all the other kids after about three weeks. Chances of survival? Well, pretty minimal.
One of the best parts of having a farm where folks visit, where conversation is about justice, food, theology, and life, is folk get to know the soil, the plants, the animals, the wind, and a runt. Our hope every year is someone will come along and experience the truth of life, the truth of being a neighbor—even to a runt, and should we have a runt, take a chance on giving a kid a home that would not happen on the farm.
Well today is that day. Youth from two sister congregations, Riverside UCC and Bethel UCC, have been with us this week. Residing across the Colombia River from one another, Riverside in Hood River and Bethel in White Salmon, they have spent a week conversing about cultural justice, anti-racism, and economic justice. In our time together dealing with these issues there is always the question of where soil, plants, and animals fit. I am not all that sure to their reasoning, other than I think it is out of a sense of justice, but they took the time to find a home for our runt!
I feel a bit like Fern today, but a lot more like the one who was going to have to put Wilbur down. Life is certainly given, but when life is allowed to live well, well, that is a time of rejoicing. I feel a bit like that!
© David B. Bell 2013