A Market Gardener's Testament
A cautionary tale of family time not spent

By Jeff Ishee

Editor's Note

Jeff Ishee wrote this piece in 1 -- three years prior to the breakup of his marriage. Jeff was an interim farm manager for Good Earth Organic Farm, owned by Andy Lee and Pat Foremannow. He now lives alone in Augusta County, Va. -- the heart of Shenandoah Valley farming country.

He has been working in farm radio for several years and now broadcasts six programs per day six days a week with affiliate stations expanding throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Jeff manages two area farmers' markets and does free-lance writing. He also is re-writing his most recent book -- Dynamic Farmers' Marketing.

He has this counsel for other farmers. "Always remember that the first word in the phrase 'family farm' is just as important as the second.

"We'll regularly cover family and personal matters related to life on the farm: from the farm legacy and your children, to marriage, to bouts of doubt and spiritual crises. Click here to share your story ideas on thoughts.


Now the Lord hath many mountains and rivers in Augusta County, Virginia; lakes and wooded paths in the Shenandoah Valley; yea, and ocean shorelines and tide pools which He hath placed upon the coast of the Commonwealth. And He hath placed them there that the men of the earth might take their wives and children fishing and camping, and spend time together relaxing in the midst of nature, and enjoying that which He has created.
But there was a servant of the Lord who knew not of it, but thought only that the Lord had created orchards and gardens in which to labor and till. And he had a wife and three children, and they labored with him in the garden. And they wrought together throughout the spring and summer, even all day every day, six days a week.
And when the Lord looked down in late autumn and saw they laboring still within the garden, lo, he reached down and smote the tiller which the man was walking behind, that He might get his attention and therefore slow him down.
And He smote it so that the parts thereof to repair it were found neither at Brubeck's hardware, nor in Staunton, nor in Richmond.

Now the servant of the Lord knew not that it was the finger of God, but hastened only to repair it and get back in the garden. And he located the parts in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which was seven hours away. And he spake to the wife of his youth saying, "Behold, now I've got to hurry. The man in Bowling Green will stay open for me until :0 p.m. tonight, but not a minute later. If I can make it, I shall return tonight and have the tiller fixed by morning. And I hearken to be successful, because Bowling Green is a full two time zones away."
And lo, he kissed her on the cheek and gat himself toward Bowling Green. And the Lord beheld him and saw him go. And lo, He sent down a great sign of the times and a great wonder out of Heaven. For when the servant was sure that he was going to make it to Bowling Green on time, and when he had less than an hour to travel, behold, even then came the sign which the Lord had sent down.
And the sign said, "Thou art entering Central Time Zone; set thy watch back one hour!"
And the man was bewildered. He spake aloud, yea, even though he was alone in the chariot, saying, "Thou sign must be in error. I calculated the time for this trip using Bowling Green being two time zones behind, not one! Surely Lord, there must be some mistake!"
But alas, there was no mistake. The man had erred and allowed himself to think he had plenty of time. And the servant of the Lord was stunned, for now it was not :0 local time, but :0 p.m., and he was too late; yea, and he was astonished. And the man commanded the chariot to slow down, and he bowed his head in the presence of the Lord.

And the voice of the Lord came forth out of the midst of the hills of Kentucky and entered into the heart of His servant and spake unto him saying, "It is now later than you think, and it is hard to get thy attention. Behold, I have given thee the wife of thy youth and three children, and thou has not yet taken pictures of them in My mountains, nor run with them in My beaches, nor splashed thy feet with them in the waves that I have sent thee. And I have sent thee fish in abundance up My rivers in the Valley all summer long, and thou has not reeled them in.
"Behold, I have seen they faithfulness in teaching them of Me and of My Word, and lo, their faith is strong. But if thou thinkest the vegetable gardens of the earth grow fast, what shalt thou say of thy children in a few years?"
And the voice of the Lord continued to emanate from the hills of central Kentucky saying, "Behold, I counsel thee to take thy sons fishing, and pick flowers with they daughter, and court thou the wife of thy youth as in the days of e're she bore thee children."
And the servant of the Lord marveled much that it was so, and lo, he rejoiced greatly in the Lord his God, and in the wife of his youth, and in the hearts and lives of his children.

This story first appeared in the July 000 edition of from Growing for Market, the leading farmer-written newsletter for market farmers. Reprinted with permission. Lynn Byczynski, editor and publisher: PO Box , Lawrence, KS