The Earth Is Our Mother

John - Vanleer, Tennessee
Entered on March 14, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in man’s responsibility to care for the other residents of our planet. This was confirmed to me a few weekends ago on the farm where I live with rescued horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, birds. Instead of adopting unwanted children, we adopt unwanted animals.

This year we planned to grow hay for the horses instead of buying from local farmers. We try to be as self-reliant as we can. So, on a recent, Saturday I started mowing an overgrown, field to fertilize and overseed some clover. I left the about six feet of fenceline uncut as hedgerow, for wildlife habitat, and continued in circles toward the center of the field. Despite being mid February and 35 degrees, it was already quite green among the dead growth from last year. Maybe we wouldn’t need so much fertilizer.

Then, turning a corner for my next pass, I saw something move under the overgrowth I had cut last time around. At the next turn I was really paying attention, and saw moles, mice, and others. By then about two-thirds of the field was cut. I then started seeing rabbits running deeper into the brush, and ground-nesting birds flying from the edge to the interior of the uncut field. On the next pass, the birds I had seen flying deeper into the brush were now flying the other way. Running out of hiding places, they landed in the now wide-open pasture, totally unprotected (the local hawks would love me).

Then I got it. I was laying waste to their community — destroying their neighborhood. I still had plenty daylight left, but I’d wiped out enough habitat for one day. So I headed for the barn, a little depressed. We always wanted to live close to the land, and we found our farm almost by accident. So we have wondered what purpose brought us here. Why this place and not another? Now it’s clear to us.

We believe were brought by the creator to this small patch of ground to preserve and protect the land and its inhabitants, not to “own them” and “exercise dominion” over them. Our little relatives that live in wild places in perfect harmony with mother earth are absolutely at our mercy. We can’t ignore this as we make judgments, and carry out decisions. No one can.

My wife, Patti, and I talked that evening about what I’d seen in the pasture, what I had learned, and what it meant regarding our plans. We had planned growing hay, harvesting timber, and at retirement, selling some land for development. But plans were undone that day. So, we’ll buy hay, let the fields and timber grow unfettered, and as long as we’re here, there’ll be no planned community on our land, save for the one already there. At the most basic level, we’re all made of the same stuff. The truth and consequence of this fact the Native Americans have known for thousands of years, without all the science.

This I Believe: The earth is our mother. We are all related. We must take care of each other.