Tilling aesthetics

Since most area farmers have changed to minimum tillage, meaning they try not to dig too deeply when working their fields--in order to preserve moisture as well as the structure of the soil--the fall scenery in the countryside has subtly changed. Instead of jet black plowed fields, the surface of the worked fields now bristles with dead soybean stalks, corn stalks, or grain straw. The dead plant matter catches the orange of the rising and setting sun, a nice effect, but it doesn't have the cleanliness and finality of a plowed field, the dramatic change from golden to black.

Fall plowing is such a satisfying endeavor that I used to plow up grassy areas just for fun. I doubt I was alone in this. Like many fun farming things, nobody questioned turning the soil whether you planned to use the patch or not. Now, however, farming doctrines have changed, and recreational plowing can no longer be justified.

Here's a poem I wrote when I still plowed:


There's a meadow we plow now and then, just to plow-
Just to push the grass back--
just to turn the green black
just to tweak the cheek of the rebellious reeds
and bequeath to the earth the neatness it needs.