Prayers at Maple Tree Medows

Prayers at Maple Tree Medows
Three Rivers, MI

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Three funerals -- one the result of murder and two old age -- ended the harvest season for this pastor. So Story Barn lay fallow. Buried under other things. The barns I saw on this gray day also lay fallow. Hmmm.... So the story continues as this urban pastor continues to learn in 2012 the stories of the land upon which my people live and work -- as told by their barns.


In Constantine, MI, the Seed Corn Capital of the World, it is the fallow season.

The fields are fallow. Snow drifts and dusts and melts in the fields, and then drifts and dusts some more. Some fields are seeded with winter wheat, resting. Some are soil bound snug by peas, green nitrogen, sprouted and decomposing into humus. Some are stubble. Stubble.

Barns lie quiet. Storage barns at Pioneer hold 950,000 bushels of seed corn, remaining from the three million bushels processed, waiting to be ordered, bagged, shipped and planted.

Villa-Miller’s machinery is stored, dry, enclosed for this season while this seed corn farmer spends the fallow season visiting with in-laws in Costa Rica and checking commodities.

But the other barns sleep. They have been sleeping for decades. They sleep the sleep of death.

How long can a field lie fallow yet remain waiting, fertile? It can take five hundred to one thousand years for an inch of soil to form.

Yet in one generation, just since the 1980’s, a family seed corn farm's barn can die. They fall along the roads each season, some caught by wind, by fire, by water. First the roof caves, then the beams lean, and finally the gaping doors close on themselves. A final breath and they are gone.

Seeds die to live.
They enter the soil’s darkness, and moist, only there can they be born again.

Is it so with barns, with farming?


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  2. Amazing to think of how long it takes for one inch of soil to be formed. And then how much more durable that soil is than all the things we build on top of it, or plant in it. How many barn beams end up decomposing, becoming part of the soil again? How many plants die, how many seeds fall? And that's OK, for this is what is supposed to happen... I find this sort of reassuring - and also a reminder of how temporary we all are. Love this blog, Nina.
    The umbrella picture is priceless - was that in one of your barns?!?

    I just named you in a blog entry on the Liebster Blog Awards. You can see more on my blog, but I wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed your work here!