Progress and The Farmer

The Farmer had been the same all his life.

He used the same hoeing tools his father, and his father’s father, had used. He used the same ox-pulled plough from the last century that was weathered and broken, but The Farmer insisted did as fine a job as any of these newfangled tractor machines.

His crop was always small, despite him telling his wife that this year was going to be the bumper year when everything changed for him. His customers were the small town back alley grocery stores and delis.

And this was just the way the farmer liked it.

Progress

Sure, he could have moved with Progress and bought a new tractor, with a steel plough and a hoeing turnover 50x that of his manual labour efforts. He could be producing more, and earning more into the bargain. But he wasn’t, and didn’t need to.

As he always told his drinking buddy whenever the question of change and Progress came up, the answer was simple.

“Progress is just a fad. My customers are exactly where I know they’ll be; sure, my crop may be small but then I don’t have to worry about growing too much. And, yes, the new tractors are more effective and quicker to do what needs doing, but where’s the fun in speed?”

His friend would look at him each time and ask his next question, even though he knew the answer. “But aren’t you scared of being left behind and having nothing left to give? No crop, no customers, because they’ve all moved on with Progress?’

The Farmer would smile, almost in a fatherly way. “There’s a reason the old ways have seen us survive this long. You mark my words, if people like me don’t want to take part in the new world, we’ll survive. It’s not like we’re the dinosuars who couldn’t adapt to the new age.”

The Farmer’s friend shook his head and went back to his drink. The talks were always the same – The Farmer would never change, even if the world around him was moving faster than even he could have anticipated. Besides, there was always tomorrow to convince him.

The Farmer

But that change in heart and mind tomorrow never came. And so The Farmer continued to plough, and to hoe, and to work and sell at a fraction of the amount of the new machines and their Progress drivers.

Winter came, and the crop had been poor. The stockpile for the cold nights was less than ever, and The Farmer’s wife was worried. Her husband sounded poorly too, with a wheezing cough and a fever from long toil and little rest.

She knew the way he worked was killing him, and she begged him to see sense and move with Progress. But she received the same retort The Farmer’s friend received whenever mentioning that word that had almost become like a deadweight around The Farmer’s neck.

“Over my dead body will I ever change and move with Progress,” The Farmer said proudly. “My father, and my father’s father, built and made this farm. And I’ll be damned if I change their teachings for some fancy metal and gears. All these machines do is end your day quicker and get you to your grave faster because of it. Progress? Progress will kill you!”

The Farmer’s Wife turned away. She knew her words were weak – no matter how she presented them, The Farmer would always counter and deny Progress. So the wife went and sat by the fire and tended her book.

Spring

The next year, as the warmth of the sun began its first steps over the land in four months, all was quiet on the farm.

The bustle of the hens and the mooing of the cows were all that greeted passers-by. Or would have, had there been any. That’s not to say there were no people there; but they weren’t the ones any home wishes to entertain.

The black car sat patiently as The Farmer and his final resting bed were loaded into the back. His wife sobbed silently, as she watched the man she spent a lifetime with take leave of her now.

The cold had been unkind to him; the Winter enveloped him and spared him from the Spring.

The black car drove off, with The Farmer’s wife following. As the cars left the silent farm, the wife took a look around at the things that had changed since they first took over the farm.

In fields all around her, large tractors and harvesters of every description were ploughing acres of land and trucks were being loaded with produce. It was as if her husband and the proud way of working life he rose to every day didn’t even exist anymore.

“Progress,” she said to herself as her car drove passed the machinery and into the city ahead. “It’ll kill you.”

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