I was there in New Hampshire a year ago in September 2012, just a few miles away when dairyman Lincoln Geiger was badly hurt by a trampling bull.
That Sunday they airlifted him to a hospital in Boston to reckon with life-threatening injuries. But Lincoln’s spirit was strong and he moved through the wounds and the shock, and the many phases of recovery to come back to the land.
“I was given a new outlook on the world, Lincoln later explained, “by what I now call a form of initiation. My whole sense of reality shifted from an objective view of nature and the environmental movement, to a deeply caring heart-centered understanding.
“I now feel that the way to engage people to improve our world is with an intelligence that emanates through the heart. We need to ensoul nature and all its creatures and feel like guests, friends, or part of the familywhen in the presence of the forest or the garden or the herd. That is the attitude that comes from the warmth of the soul through the wisdom of the heart.”
From the very beginning Lincoln has been one of the core farmers at the remarkable Temple-Wilton Community Farm. One of the first two Community Supported Agriculture farms (CSAs) in America, it is still growing strong nearing thirty growing seasons.
In a blog post recounting his recent visit to the farm, Robert Karp of the Biodynamic Association noted that the Temple-Wilton Community Farm, “keeps showing the way” for thousands of other CSA farms across the nation and around the world.
A day-and-a-half before his fateful encounter with the bull, Lincoln came and sat beside me in the barn loft at Stonewall Farm Center, just west of Keene. He shared a grace with our conference of people talking about implementing greater food security for the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire.
Lincoln sat as part of a circle of 40 of us or so — all Twentyfirst Century agrarians alive with a sense of doing something foundationally important in the world. After dinner, to offer a blessing, he talked with us for about ten minutes.
He began by telling the story of how on a spring day he had climbed aboard the farm’s tractor and set about mowing the high fields. He never noticed the place in the deep grasses where a fawn lay hidden, and so to his dismay and anguish he found that the blades of his mower had badly injured the fawn.
Within two weeks he had hit four fawns and felt the deer were trying to teach him something monumental. “The day I hit the last fawn I was super alert to make sure there would be no accident. I stood on the tractor platform the whole time I was mowing. About a third into the 10-acre field I saw a deer standing about 200 feet from me. I stopped the tractor, got off and noticed that the deer was looking at me and then looked down and then back at me.
“I felt right away that she was standing by her fawn. I turned off the tractor and headed straight towards the deer. She ran away, I kept walking and soon there in front of me lay a beautiful fawn. I just stood with it for a while, then I called my dairy partner Andrew and our apprentice Sara to come to the field with a cage or something to hold the fawn while I finished mowing.
“I picked up the fawn, it was totally calm and carried it to the bottom of the field. Andrew and Sara came but had no cage, they brought it into the Forrest and let it go. I kept on mowing and just as I was finishing the last couple of swaths, as I look back, there it is with its hoof cut off an inch up. I cried out loud, turned off the tractor and picked it up in my arms again. My heart was broken so bad I can’t tell you. I brought my little friend into the forest, I knew it would never make it. I laid it on a large stone and crushed its beautiful head with a rock.
“Then I cracked open inside and screamed loudly for the world to hear our pain and our love,” Lincoln told me. Time went by. To bring some light and healing to all that arose with the death of the fawns, to respond give some beauty back to the world Lincoln wrote graces.
At Stonewall Farm a year ago, Lincoln spoke one of those graces aloud for the circle:
Thank you Earth so soft and strong
Thank you meadow filled with song
Thank you mountain, forest and stream
By you we rest and find our dream
Thank you creatures wild and tame
Your trust we love and hope to gain
Thank you for your milk and fleece
And for your meat that we may eat
Thank you root and leaf and seed
We’ll not forget your wondrous deed
You hold the earth
You catch the rain
You fill the world with air again
Thank you wind for bringing rain
Please help our friends who are in pain
For us who thirst and cry from hunger
Please bring hope, life and wonder
Thank you moon for guidance and grace
For heart bent flowers
With dew drop lace
Thank you sun as day begins
For golden light
By angel wings
With thankful hearts
and open hands
We ask to share your loving lands.
– Lincoln Geiger, Temple-Wilton Farm
As of Thanksgiving 2013, Lincoln writes: “I am well and full of living.” The Temple-Wilton Community Farm is also well and full of living, as attested to by yet another article about the farm’s place in the history and the destiny of the CSA movement, complete with some wonderful photos. The story – The First CSAs – is published on page 10 of the John Deere company magazine, The Furrow.