A Canadian Fable
Date: Tuesday, March 20 2007
There are many chapters to this fable, this is but an introduction. If you find additional parts of it feel free to post them! (Rural)
Once upon a time there were 5 farmers, Jack, Steve, Stéphane, Frenchy and Lizzy. They were asked by the local community to look after a large plot of land for the benefit of the peasants that lived nearby and to protect it from robbers and vermin. The farmers took turns being in charge according to which one of them the peasants thought would do the best job that year based upon how each of them said they were going to sow the crops.
The farmers had a store of grain held over from the previous crop and each year would hold some of the crop back to sow the following year, sometimes they would give a little of this to the peasants to grow in their own garden but each villager would get different amounts and each farmer had a different way of distributing it.
The farmers also each had a different way of sowing the crops and their favorite piece of the field where they would sow thicker than elsewhere , one of the farmers had no ambition to be in charge of the whole garden but just wanted control of his little bit. Frenchy liked to have a say when plans were made but so long as his bit of garden got lots of seed he didn’t really care about the rest.
Jacks family had been in charge a few years ago but tended to put the most seed at one side of the field and many of the more affluent peasants did not seem to like that and asked Stéphane,s family to try to do better.
Stéphane,s family had been in charge for many years until now, but had wasted so much seed by trading it to unscrupulous merchants for inferior goods that the peasants decided to give someone else a chance.
None of those previously in charge had done much about the robbers who lived next door and vermin who hid in the field, who regularly stole or destroyed the crops. Some of them had in fact made a pact with the robbers to allow them easy access to the field and borrowed from the vermin’s store of food when the warehouse was running low.
Farmer Steve was new to farming, although his family had been fertilizing the land for many years, so when he got a chance to take charge he really wanted to keep the peasants happy so that they would put him in charge again next year. He thought about the way each of the other farmers had sown their seed and decided he had a better way, he would broadcast his seed, spreading it far and wide. If some of it fell on fallow ground, so what, he could say to the peasants “but look at all the seed I’ve spread around, I even found some extra in the warehouse and used it up too”. He was careful however to make sure that Frenchys little bit got some extra seed because he knew that Frenchy could really stir up the peasants if he started talking about taking his bit of land away from the community.
Now each of the farmers had a supply of manure, some larger that others. But instead of using it to help the crops they all gave most of it to the peasants, whether they wanted any or not, and as the peasants had no place to put it all after a while it really started to stink. Steve had a particular way of handing it out, he would not let his workers hand over small but acceptable amounts but insisted upon handing out large, almost overwhelming, quantities personally.
Our fifth farmer had never had a chance to be in control and had in fact been made to stand at the side of the field and just look on. Lizzy was not even allowed to join the discussions about how the seed was to be sown. She did try and tell the peasants that she had a plan to put the manure where it would do the most good, but only a few of them were listening. So she stood at the edge of the field day in and day out taking in the constant bickering between the other four farmers and telling any who would listen that she too would like a chance to have a say in how the field was planted.
And the peasants stood there up to their armpits in manure and said “there has to be a better way to make this land more productive for the benefit of all of us”.