Teach a Man to Fish… or Farm! Or Just, Give a Goat!

Growing up with a farm, we had farm animals. Cows, chickens, ducks, geese, a pig or two and Marvin, our buffalo, made up a part of our menagerie. A few guineas, a pair of peacocks and of course dogs and cats rounded out our zoo. Mrs. Mary referred to my middle sister Maggie as “Ellie May” because of her love of all creatures great and small! As ardently as I loved the flora of our farm, Maggie loved the fauna. Meredith, aka “The Baby,” too loved the critters and squealed when the baby cows licked the sweet corn from her hand.

To quote Gerald O’Hara, “…land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts.” I love this!!!


Not only did the land need the water for survival, nourishment and growth but the animals did too. We Farmer kids too tapped into the richness that our farm’s wells, springs, creek and pond provided – giving us unlimited playgrounds, swimming holes, and adventures as we canoed, splashed and fished. Something about growing up on the land gives you an innate sense of the cycle of life. Water and sun made plants and crops grow; animals thus ate the crops; seasons came and went and cycles start and end again with nature’s perfect cadence. The land provides naturally, but cultivation brings about bounty.


So here at Christmastime, I am even more so reminded of the farm, of childhood, of the animals and the crops. Maybe it’s the manger scenes and tunes, the “…cattle are lowing…” and so on. Christmas falls at the very beginning of winter so for us Farmer children and so many other farmer children, fall and harvest time run right into the Christmas holidays – a collision of pumpkins and poinsettias. Yet, this collision reminds me of giving – as the land does – but giving on a completely different level. Giving and teaching simultaneously. 


A couple chickens can provide eggs by the dozens. A flock of geese can do the same. Cows and goats provide highly nutritious milk. Even rabbits’ soft fur can be spun into yarn to be woven into clothing. I love the ancient axiom of giving a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teaching a man to fish he can eat for life! A Southern twist teaches the man to farm and he’ll eat for life! So as you are wondering as you wander through the last of your holiday shopping this week (or if you’re like me and you haven’t started) then think about giving a goat or a whole herd! Give a well to bring health, cleanliness and irrigation to a village. In honor of your folks and in-laws, give an entire flock of sheep or at least a lamb or two. Just give – give some kind of creature – no matter how great or small – for no gift is too great or too small.

Here’s how: http://www.heifer.org/  I want to give one of each!!! http://www.water.cc/ Water is vital to life first and for growth and sustenance. Neither the farm nor the farmer can survive without it.

I pray this Christmas season is a well-spring of, well, wells! And every animal you can give. Trust me, the satisfaction of watching your grandparents or any ol’ goat or ol’ bird in your family open a card saying “a goat and chicken have been given in your name by your grandchildren” is beyond heartwarming. Merry Christmas, y’all!