Monday, November 1, 2010

A Masterpiece in the Making – All the Colors of the Countryside

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Traditionally on Mondays, I share an agricultural website of interest. Today, I am posting an article written for the Cow Art and More blog Michelle Payn-Knoper (@mpaynknoper). Michelle is a speaking professional who works to motivate people within the agriculture community to connect with consumers. She blogs about her passion for agriculture at

Crayons, markers, pencils, clay, paper, chalk, beads and paints don’t stand a chance in our house. Our resident “Little Artist” (L.A.) dreams up creations not seen in the adult world. I shouldn't be surprised, given the fond memories I have of drawing and writing books in elementary school. But I do have to say that LA. takes imagination to a whole new level.

L.A. is inspired by animals and has discovered the beauty of nature. Horses are a favorite, much to the chagrin of Holstein breeder dad and mom. Cats and dogs are right behind – along with birds, plants, rainbows and insects. We take great pride in L.A.’s love of our rural world; it’s something we hope will be a foundation for life.

Our rural countryside doesn’t just provide inspiration for art - it provides lessons for life. Lessons that those animals we cherish in real life or in art are meant to live and die to give us food. Lessons that work ethic, honesty and dealing fairly with others bring great rewards. Lessons about perseverance and balance when given a load that seems too heavy to carry.

The lessons that are taught on a farm are irreplaceable. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer children are exposed to that as we see people 4-5 generations removed from the farm. Frankly, that scares me because I’ve seen the consequences of a society detached from where their food is produced.

L.A.’s friends’ attraction to the barn gives me hope; their favorite activities are learning about animals, playing for hours in the haymow and going on nature walks by our fence row. I only wish those activities would still be favorites when they’re 16! That likely won’t be the case, but I do hope they remember their times on the farm and that those pretty black and white cows are where milk comes from – not to mention cheese, ice cream and yogurt.

As an art community, I’d encourage you to get to know some of the beauty behind the animals and barns. If only more people would stop to reflect on the purpose of our farm animals and meaning of our countryside, we'd have a more realistic connection to food.

Farms are not just a pastoral scene, but also the home of people who produce our food. Farms are still tended by families, even when red wood barns have turned to white metal buildings and GPS auto-steer tractors have replaced antiques. Our countryside continues to change, just as we see progress in computers, schools and doctor’s offices.

L.A. reminds me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe today’s modern family farms offer just as much beauty as those from Charlotte’s web. The beauty is in watching farmers tend to animals and land with great care – and appreciating the sacrifice involved to make food. Beauty can also be found in the consistent family values handed down through generations. Beauty is in the entrepreneurial creativity that it takes to make a farm work today. Beauty is in watching the next generation find their way…

There’s no telling if L.A. will find a way in agriculture, just as there’s no way of knowing where that wild imagination will lead. As a mom, I’ll encourage both. But at the end of the day, I know this is a masterpiece in the making - and we’re going to do everything we can to add as many colors of the countryside as possible. Are you doing the same with your masterpiece?


The Wife of a Dairyman said...

Wow! Michele, beautifully written!
And Kathy, thanks for sharing this great post:)
I too hope my kids will have an interest in this farm that we now live on and call home:) Time will tell.

Michele said...

Thanks, I don't often get to share the mom perspective, but really do wish more young people had the values of the countryside.

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