Garden philosophy throwdown: Wendell Berry vs. Spinal Tap

by Nathan Rutz


I usually think of planting stuff in terms of self-sufficiency, glorious rebellion against the devilry of the everything-industrial complexes, and Wendell Berryian agrarianism.

One of my favorite thoughts from Berry is on the dual nature of the farmer, from the Unsettling of America:

” Over and over again, spring after spring, the questing mind, idealist
and visionary, must pass through the planting to become nurturer of the real. The farmer,
sometimes known as husbandman, is by definition half mother; the only question is how good a
mother he or she is. And the land itself is not mother or father only, but both. Depending on crop
and season, it is at one time receiver of seed, bearer and nurturer of young; at another, raiser of
seed-stalk, bearer and shedder of seed. And in response to these changes, the farmer crosses back
and forth from one zone of spousehood to another, first as planter and then as gatherer.”

On the other hand, Spinal Tap brings us this bit of insight from their song “Sex Farm

Working on a sex farm
Trying to raise some hard love
Getting out my pitch fork
Poking your hay

Scratching in your hen house
Sniffing at your feedbag
Slipping out your back door
Leaving my spray

Sex farm woman, I’m gonna mow you down
Sex farm woman, I’ll rake and hoe you down
Sex farm woman, don’t you see my silo rising high?

Working on a sex farm
Hosing down your barn door
Bothering your livestock
They know what I need

Working up a hot sweat
Crouching in your pea patch
Plowing through your bean field
Planting my seed

Sex farm woman, I’ll be your hired hand
Sex farm woman, I’ll let my offer stand
Sex farm woman, don’t you hear my tractor rumbling by?

I was going to write a post about planting seeds, but all I could think about was this song. Maybe another time…