History repeating

Is history repeating itself? Is there a story not being told?

Hear me out and I’m sure you’ll have no reason to disagree. Recently, I have had two, coming and going, several-hour trips across the back country roads of southwestern Ontario. Not once did we hit a gravel road. Ribbons of asphalt, well-marked by our agreed-upon territorial markers, yet not once did we see a small mixed-farming operation.

Large-acre mono cropping of corn, beans, grain crops, and second- and third-cut hay fields stretched each way as far as one could see, often stretching from one paved road to the next. This was known, in my day, as a string hundred-acre farm, not just one large field.

One could tell by the expansive outbuildings, grain elevators and highly mechanized equipment yards that feedlots and numerous large, overcrowded creature enclosures were the norm. The ten- and twelve-acre mixed farming fields of recent generations no longer exist. The hedgerows are gone, the wetlands filled in, and gone are the links that allowed wildlife, both animal and birds, to travel, in relative safety, from one woodlot to another.

When the multi-variety windbreaks, as the hedge rows became, self-planted by seeds carried in their droppings, disappeared, so went the selection of food source and so went their travel routes and nesting sites. Gone, too, completely is the small farmer’s way of life.

The large commercial operations have so inflated the price of land that farms, handed down freely through previous generations, father to son, from forefathers who cleared the land with axe and hand-pulled cross-cut saws, yanking the stumps out of which they made fences, hauling the logs and removing huge rocks by oxen. In no way could history books paint a graphic picture of the hardship and loneliness they must have endured.

Nor will history books be able to portray the hardship and loneliness of those pushed, by economics, from their rural route way of life to be caged in city apartments and condominiums piled, not unlike chicken crates, 40, 50 and 60 floors high, with the pushing of a button their only way of entry or exit. Could this not be an unrecognized form of reservations?

Is this not history repeating itself? Is this not reminiscent of the cruel and thoughtless way that our native tribes were pushed by force from the hunting grounds, their way of life, to the desolate reservations? Are the chicken crate high-rise apartments any better, perhaps worse, than the open-spaced reservations?

Are our clear-cut, open, mono cropped farm fields, continually robbing unseen micro nutrients from our soils, not causing a lacking in the food we eat? Could this possibly be the cause of cancers or other fatal diseases to which we are forever searching for cures instead of spending dollar for dollar back routing the cause?

Is the demand for the almighty dollar wiping our way of life from the slates by the international rich? Will our open-spaced farmlands, now food baskets capable of feeding the world, not end up as wind-blown sand dunes? Have we not learned by the mistakes of long past? How will this be explained to our grandchildren’s children when poverty once again creeps over nation after nation? It’s a question that often stumbles across my mind.

Take care, ‘cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins