Fresh from a breakfast of piping hot spaghetti on toast and loud laughs, the employees at Joyclas Farms headed back to work for the day on the New Zealand dairy farm. There was important work to be done.
The smell of sweet silage hung in the air and the strikingly iridescent grass of the paddocks shone in the early morning sun. We drove past a patch of turf that was unwieldy and overgrown. As yet jejune in my dairy farming apprenticeship, having grown up in the Los Angeles area, I wondered aloud why this pasture was different than all the rest.
“That field is lying fallow,” said Lawrence, one of the farm’s owners. “It will be rich for the heifers to enjoy next season.”
Leaving a field to lie fallow means leaving a paddock to be unseeded, uneaten, and unspoiled for a season or more. It is one of the best ways farmers can allow the land to replenish its nutrients and regain its fertility. It also helps prevent erosion — the roots of the plants left free to grow help to hold the soil in place against the ravages of wind and rain.
When fallow, the field is at rest so that it can serve its function to feed the heifers for years to come.
Just as fields need to lie fallow, so does all creation — including us. In a world that is rife with addiction to busyness, it is imperative that we rediscover the lost art of re-creative rest.