Two Farmers

Harvest

In the fertile valleys of Montana, harvest is almost complete. Malt barley is headed for the breweries, hard winter wheat is destined for the flourmills, soggy steer calves are trucked from the Red Lodge mountains to feedlots on the plains, sugar beets provide a poignant aroma to the air of Billings as they are processed into sweets for treats, and ear corn waits on the stalk to be picked.

The secrets to life can be found in the sixty miles from Red Lodge to Billings, Montana. This is a story of two farmers, Tom and Fred.

Their farms sit side-by-side, with a fence between them. Fred is a man of few words, while Tom likes to talk. Early morning, finds Fred at the kitchen table with a cup of dark, rich, coffee, as he plans his day. As dawn gives way to the first light, Fred is preparing his tractors for the circles they will make. Here comes Tom, with a little hair of the dog that bit him from the night before, to lean on the fence and begin his stories of high adventure.

Fred understands the benefit of crop rotation. If he wants to grow corn in one of his fields, he plants corn seed. For the sugar beet fields, he plants those little sugar beet seeds. In his wheat fields, he plants kernels of wheat.

As the spring rains stop, Fred is ready to start his irrigation to provide water for the crops. In early summer, the weeds are in competition with his crops; so, he cultivates. When the calves sneak through a hole in the pasture fence, he cowboys them back home and fixes the fence.

Tom watches Fred work. While continuing to lean on the fence day after day, Tom has all kinds of advice for how Fred should do his work. Fred just nods. In fact, Fred nods and waves as he puts his grain in the bin, steers on the truck, beets in the pile, and corn in the crib.

Then, one fall day while surveying his barren fields, Tom is in, especially, fine form. He walks up to his favorite leaning post and waves Fred over to the edge of the field. As Fred idles his new tractor down to a gentle purr and steps from the cab to learn what is on his neighbor’s mind, Tom says, “You’re sure lucky!” Fred just nods and says, “Yep.”

We harvest what we plant.

The shorter version of the story is the proverb: “Some sow their wild oats and then hope for a crop failure.” Those are the lucky ones. Lucky in the sense that less bad seed is blowing in the wind to cause harm for the neighbors. Un-lucky, since the real joys of life are discovered by doing, learning, and growing.

In this era of fantasy, when: work is spelled l-u-c-k; wrong is thought to be right; and, black and white are old-fashioned; how can we know good people from the bad ones?

Again, from agrarian principles, comes the answer.

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.

… He taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers…

In returning to the story of our two neighbors, Tom is a Talker and Fred is the Farmer. Talk is easy. Work is hard. Or, is it?

Maybe, the moral of the story is: Easy is hard — and, Hard is easy.

As for me, I enjoy full bins!

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Steel and Velvet

Steel and VelvetTwo Sides of Same Coin

Life is experienced on a tightrope.

Fine lines of distinction separate This from That.

As an example, the short riddle below, comprised of two sentences, is deserving of being solved.

It will be our segue into the Thought Du Jour.

Each sentence is accurate.

Together, they become powerful in thought and deed.

Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.

Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.

While appearing contradictory, the Secret is within each of us, at our core. If we know who we are and are generous of spirit, the ‘answer’ becomes obvious:

We refuse to follow a foolish person down rabbit trails — and, we boldly share our beliefs with them.

Men of Steel and Velvet

By now, you might ask, “What does this have to do with men of Steel and Velvet?”

The answer, “They can be firm and soft — at the same time.”

In fact, they are who they are — yet, they generously share of themselves. The perceived differences become reality when interacting with the individuals who approach them. For example — these men of Steel and Velvet have the patience of a Saint. Some people will recognize the character trait as a virtue — others will perceive the same trait as weakness.

The first group will experience the softness flowing from mutual respect — the second group will experience the hardness resulting from a rude awakening — as they are jolted from their ill-conceived perception to the harsh reality of a definitive limit. While giving the benefit of the doubt, these men of Steel and Velvet will defend their boundaries — for the benefit of those who seek protection there.

Boundaries are simply ‘fine lines of distinction‘. One of these fine lines separates forgiveness from flaccidity. Forgiveness is hard (to do) — flaccidity is (by its very definition) soft. Forgiveness lets us enjoy the present moment — while moving forward into a future of opportunities. Flaccidity is for those who allow themselves to be a doormat for the feet of their enemies — while remaining tethered to the past.

Lambs to the Wolves

Lambs

Is it possible for lambs to move through a pack of wolves? What is the Secret to that?! Answer: “We are to be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Wisdom is the forerunner to success. In fact, a four letter word is the pun intended to create a new beginning in our lives — Fore.

Yes — that which comes before. Have you ever wondered how generous people got to be that way? They give here, there, and everywhere. What came first? What is at the very beginning of their current efforts?

Answer, “Fore-give” — and, in the vernacular, Forgive.

Forgiveness

One of the best definitions of forgiveness was received in a place far removed from a religious setting. Yet, it dovetails with a belief in a Higher Power and summarizes the distinct black and white choice we will each make in our, individual, lives.

Forgiveness: Let go of the notion that there can be a better, or different, yesterday.

Simple enough. Yet, check your thoughts. Where are they? Dwelling on an episode, conversation, mistake, hurt, offense, etc. of the Past? If so, look again at the definition above.

“But”, you might say, “I have tried to forgive and that person does not deserve it, will not accept it, continues to do it, etc.” (the excuses continue on ad infinitum and ad nauseam)

DovesFore-giving is not about anyone else. It is about us and totally within our control.

Does it mean we condone the actions of another? No.

Does it mean we continue to allow another to use and abuse us? Heck, no!

Does it mean we forget, for now, with hopes of revenge, later? Again, the answer is — No.

We, simply — Let go of the notion that there can be a better, or different, yesterday.

Then, we assuage ourselves with, “Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive!”

The Offended

Many will choose to be offended. They will be envious of the peace and tranquility in our lives. The pathologically challenged will remain tethered to their past, while we move forward.

Each new day will bring the tightropes for us to walk boldly and in balance. Through it all, we retain our innocence by being able and willing to, quickly, ask for forgiveness when we are wrong and offering it freely to erase the foibles of others. By doing so we achieve —

The Reward

We ignore the foolish arguments — while sharing our core beliefs.

We wisely chart our course through danger — while being careful to remain harmless.

We forgive ourselves and others — while receiving an invitation to the future.

We, eventually, learn the inherent principle of Steel and Velvet —
Easy is hard and Hard is easy.

www.kimfoard.com