As promised, here's a post from guest blogger Jesse Young.
He's renamed the blog for his post:
Okay -- in order to keep this simple and concise, we'll just talk about the last thousand years.
Thirty-five years ago, my hero and big brother Tony introduced me to Wendell Berry. I read Mr. Berry's description of the French countryside and the French as consummate gardeners -- these skills have provided for their survival as dozens of wars have been fought on their land for a thousand years. I have wanted to see this country since then.
(from Bayeux Tapestry)
This picture, from a "blog post" that dates to the 1070s, shows a turning plow being pulled by a donkey, tilling the beautiful silt loam soils in Normandy.
Today, a very similar plow, tilling these same Normandy soils, is being pulled by Antoine and his Massey Ferguson with approximately 180 horses under the hood.
I'm not changing the subject, but French people are nice.
They are nice, they are patient, they are helpful.
I feel the need to repeat this several times in this short post.
Leslie and I were observing Antoine from a distance, when he pulled up, stopped, walked over to us and said, "Bonjour!"
Antoine spoke no English and I speak no French. But we communicated, as semi-literate farm boys have for a thousand years, with grunts, hand gestures and animal sounds.
Antoine explained to me that these radish/turnip/sugar beet root crops were fed to the dairy cattle.
Antoine offered to let me make a round with him. I declined, but was very grateful. I tipped my John Deere cap to him (to show that we're members of the same fraternity) and said "Au revoir!"
This encounter left me to conclude that every French farmer is a nice person.
The French in this region encourage drivers to be careful and please share the road…See? French people are nice!
The field crops we observed while driving around the French countryside were corn...
and forage root crops…(which look like collard greens)
We also saw apple orchards, beef and dairy cattle…
(my apologies for those crazy Benedictine monks who have been photo bombing sheep and cow portraits for about 900 years)
This picture, taken from the top of Mont St-Michel, the ancient city, gives a view of the modern world, with a sophisticated levee system and large, square fields, just beyond the historic mud flats surrounding the island community. You can see the rains moving in gently. I observed no irrigation systems in Normandy. The rains are frequent and gentle, allowing a wide variety of fresh produce and field crops to be grown successfully for at least the past 1000 years.
Similar themes here in this beautiful land and our beautiful home include:
Sometimes farmers have to "mud" their corn out...
…and watch out for deer…
The gingko trees are as beautiful in the fall...
...and watch out for those darn farmers. They think they own the road!
Sycamore trees grow tall and majestic…
(I am an oaf. I remembered to remove my hat shortly after this picture was taken.)
And our Lord is honored and worshiped.
(The lower part of the interior of the Bayeux Cathedral dates to to 1070…
the more "modern" gothic construction was finished in 1550.)
These cathedrals allow a sinner to feel small and we're reminded to always look heavenward.
I like talking to God in a field on our farm.
And I liked joining the faithful who have talked to God in this place for almost 1000 years.