The Last of the Virgin Sod

As turn the page to Spring when farmers prepare for the season’s planting, I can’t help but think of the smell of freshly turned dirt and the green plants that will soon sprout up.

While we have relatively small amounts of native prairie remaining in the United States, we do have numerous farmers and ranchers who are good stewards of our land and resources. Modern agriculture utilizes a number of conservation methods to ensure we’re keeping our land in good shape and preparing it to be better for future generations. Conservation methods through tillage, cover crops, rotation and precision technology are all tools in their belts.

We can still appreciate poems from years past as reminderĀ of the need for continual improvement so we don’t lose what we do have.

The Last of the Virgin Sod
by Rudolf Ruste

We broke today on the homestead
The last of the virgin sod,
And a haunting feeling oppressed me
That we marred a work of God.

A fragrance rose from the furrow,
A fragrance both young and old.
It was fresh with the dew of the morning,
Yet aged with time untold.

The creak of leather and clevis,
The rip of the coulter blade,
And we wreck what God with the labor
Of countless years has made.

I thought, while laying the last land,
Of the tropical sun and rains,
Of the jungles, oceans, and glaciers
Which had helped to make these plains;

Of monsters, horrid and fearful,
Which reigned in the land we plow,
And it seemed to me so presumptuous
Of man to claim it now.

So when, today, on the homestead,
We finished the virgin sod,
Is it strange I almost regretted
To have marred that work of God?

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Ryan Goodman works in grassroots advocacy with beef cattle farmers and ranchers across the United States. He is a proud alumnus of Oklahoma State University, with studies focusing on cattle reproduction and nutrition. Ryans
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