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Kevin Ford

Dr. Jared Staudt

Jason Craig

Tommy Van Horn

Casey Truelove

Eugene Diamond

Brian Ring

Jim Curley

Amanda Ring

A Call to NCLM Folks, And a Thank You to Kevin Ford

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in Posts | 3 comments

I wrote recently on another blog that I think there is a genuine land movement in the Church in the West.  I’ll repeat a quick point here: The farming thrust is not just reactionary or idealistic, but a concrete and good answer to life’s contemporary strains.  We aren’t hunkering down – we’re living.  It’s also not a shirking of evangelical mission – people in the country have souls too.  We need new ways to live, and sometimes the old ones fit the bill.  I’ve used the term “back” to refer to going “back to the land”.  Let’s not forget our experiment away from it is a short one – widespread in just the last century.  Even if less of us are farming, we still need the land at least 3 times a day.  I think those of us living closer to it simply think that it has more to offer than meals. For many that “us” I mentioned exists because of Kevin Ford.  He was a pioneer in many ways, but especially in telling his story and sharing his thoughts online.  He was that wonderful paradox of an online voice for a soil based life.  I immediately found a certain kinship with the geekdom of Catholic Land Movement readers – they, like me, enjoyed reading about what Kevin and his family were up too.  And there were many readers.  I even met some in real life!  I can say very clearly that my path to the land went by Kevin’s farm in St. Leo.  (Literally – we stopped by.)  I know there are others too. Kevin, on behalf of the rag-tag band of readers and wannabe farmers – thank you.  Thank you for being a voice, for taking the leap, for showing us when you succeeded, and for showing us when you failed (farming seems to be a hyperstatic union of success and failure).   It has been an inspiration not just to sweet thoughts but to real action.  I know it hasn’t been easy, and the only reason I am bold to say “it was worth it” is because I know you’re still trying.  The rootedness of family and land is worth fighting for.  Thanks for saying that for all these years, and for being an example. And to you readers, thank you for already sending messages of excitement in the plans to show how the spark of the NCLM has spread.  Here’s what you can do: Comment here, and thank Kevin. If you are interested in being a regular contributor, please let me know ASAP.  I would like to remain open to finding many authors, but would also like to find seasoned and regular writers to continue to articulate, explore, and show the NCLM to the world. A few have mentioned some other ideas and ways to expand the movement.  Please email me directly at jasonmcraig (at) gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from...

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Ember Days of Autumn

Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in Posts | 1 comment

Ember Days of Autumn

Since the earliest days of the Church it has been the custom of Christians to practice the Ember days to mark the four seasons of the year. This tradition comes to us from pagan times when even they recognized the importance of thanksgiving with regard to the bounteous gifts provided by a fertile earth. As with many traditions in the Church, we “baptized” this seasonal change, and it has been a staple of Catholic practice since very early on. Even many Protestant churches have continued this practice in their own church calendars. So what are the Ember Days and when do they happen? I learned the simple phrase, “Lenty, Penty, Lucy, Crucy” to remember the times liturgically of each of these Ember Days. The Ember Days encompass a Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following Ash Wednesday (Lenty), Pentecost (Penty), St. Lucy’s Day, and Holy Cross Day (Crucy). Last week (September 14), was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross commemorating the finding of the relics of the True Cross by St. Helena. Thus, it falls on this week to be the Ember week for Autumn. So what are the Ember Days? Traditionally the Church recognized the Ember Days in her Sacred Liturgy and through fasting and partial abstinence. However, after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, discretion over the Ember Days were left to Bishop’s Conferences…who basically never sought to do anything with them. However, their loss is sorely missed in a world that no longer realizes that milk comes from cows and that the Lord is Lord of the Harvest. The Ember Days were roughly equidistant through the year, marking and highlighting the beginning of each of the seasons. Prayers specific to the time of year were said, and fasting was offered, asking for God’s blessings! The Ford family will be following the Ember Days this week. We will add additional prayers of thanksgiving out of our Rural Life Prayer Book, and we will do some fasting and abstinence as well. We also will do a blessing of our garden and harvest. However, we also will adjust the custom slightly so that it ends Saturday evening with an Autumnal feast featuring food we grew “by the sweat of our brow.” These days set the tone of the rest of the season. For the next three months until the Winter Ember Days, we will retain this mood of thanksgiving. It is a wonderful addition to any family tradition.   Pax,...

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Expanding the New Catholic Land Movement

Posted by on Sep 13, 2017 in Posts | 1 comment

Expanding the New Catholic Land Movement

Ten years ago this month I started to blog on the Catholic Land Movement. At the time I was a very green farmer/homesteader wannabe who dreamed of providing all of life’s necessities from the Providential bounty of the land. A decade later I am a somewhat jaded, yet wiser farmer who is giving farming another shot. Yet, there is one aspect with regard to the New Catholic Land Movement that I have long wanted to address, and now at this particular time believe it is being addressed. My original blog was more or less my musing on all things related to Catholic rural life. However, it also became a sort of long term documentary of my own attempts at farming, establishing community, and failing at both. Now I believe it is time to separate the movement from my own ego and expand it to encompass all the ways that God is working to bring back a cohesive rural Catholic family life. Recently a friend of mine and long time NCLM enthusiast offered to manage/edit this site. For quite a while I have felt that I lacked the time and personality traits necessary to expand the NCLM beyond my own personal story. Thus I am handing on the reins of this site to Jason Craig. Mr. Craig’s writings can be seen quite commonly passing around the circles of Catholic rural life groups on social media and online in general. I believe it is a necessary step in order to as he put it: “Wrestle the NCLM away from the story of Kevin Ford.” I couldn’t agree more with his assessment. Our vision is to change this site (or another similar site) into a place where all those interested in the Catholic Land Movement can come to share ideas and learn about what is happening around the globe. Hopefully, we can garner a good and steady group of writers to offer insights into their own personal journeys as well as building up the philosophical foundation for the movement to be successful today. I continue to hear from folks from around the globe about this idea of a Catholic Land Movement. The movement is by no means dead, but it does perhaps need some changes to make it to a larger audience. I look forward to being a part of that movement. For ten years I sought to give a voice to the New Catholic Land Movement. Now I want to be a voice in the movement as opposed to the voice. I look forward to seeing the developments over the coming weeks, months, and years. I hope that you do too. Kevin   P.S. – I will eventually be blogging about our personal story again, however that will be at a separate site for our new farm venture: Good Ground Farm. We don’t have a website up yet, but I will mention it in the...

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Opportunities

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Posts | 0 comments

Opportunities

I have added a new “Opportunities” section to the website where I will be posting various opportunities for people to get back to a rural life in some way or another. These will include land for sale in areas that have vibrant Catholic Culture as well as opportunities on Catholic-owned farms for employment or internships. I have added the first listing today. If you have something you would like me to add then please contact me. Kevin

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On Motherhood (by Mary Ford)

Posted by on Apr 24, 2017 in Posts | 6 comments

On Motherhood (by Mary Ford)

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to thy word,” Mary humbly proclaims to the Archangel Gabriel at the moment of the Annunciation. And so great was her humility, her love, her acceptance of the divine will of God that she became the Mother of God at that moment. What fruit her motherhood bore – and is bearing – for the world! Because of Mary’s “Fiat”, her humble “yes” to God, humanity was saved. The faithful are allowed to enter into Heaven because of her willing motherhood. Reflecting on this now, I’m struck by the complete gift of self that Mary made at the moment of the Incarnation. I’ve often heard in the course of my life as a Catholic that we ought to follow Mary’s example, that she is the perfect role model for us to imitate in following God’s will. This perfect acceptance of God’s will is what prompted Kevin and me to name our farm in St. Leo “Fiat Farms.” We wanted to offer our work, our family life, our prayer, and our play as a constant “Fiat” to God’s will. I’m afraid sticking to this model of faithfulness was more difficult for us than we had first supposed, however. I’ve never found anything better to teach me on a daily basis about accepting God’s will than farming. Success in farming is very dependent on the weather, the climate, how many pests are present, etc., all of which are circumstances largely out of a farmer’s control. This “out of control” aspect of farming is an excellent teacher of trust in God. I can vividly remember one evening in our second year in St. Leo when a hail storm, accompanied by the unhelpful temperature of 32 degrees, swept over our farm. It was springtime, and a large portion of our crops were still only beginning to put up hopeful, tender shoots towards the sun. When it first began, Kevin and I immediately knelt in prayer, asking our Lord to protect our farm and drive the storm away, Sea of Galilee style. Instead, the hail storm continued far into the night. As the hail continued to fall, Kevin and I looked at each other from our position kneeling there on the floor, and Kevin gave me a sad smile. It was a smile that acknowledged both the destruction of all our work up to that point and the fact that God was willing all this, whether we understood it or not. It was one of the first tests of our dedication to the motto of “let it be done to me”. There have been many other tests since, for “the Lord chastises those he loves” (Heb. 12:6). The latest of these tests came recently when Kevin had some sort of rapid-beat episode with his heart, an incident scary enough to send him by ambulance to the ER. He was released the same night, a mild prognosis given, and told not to worry unless it kept happening. But seeing him strapped to a stretcher and driven away in an ambulance that evening, despite the gentle smile of love and reassurance he gave me, I felt much of my security stripped away. It was a life-changing moment, realizing that my husband might...

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On Fatherhood

Posted by on Apr 21, 2017 in Posts | 9 comments

On Fatherhood

“To obtain the help of Providence it should be your aim to cooperate, as it were, with the Fatherhood of God and bring up your children as He would wish them brought up, especially by showing good example. Have the courage to lay aside all other ambition and let this be the only object of your care and desire.”  Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence – Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint Coure S.J. What does it mean to be a father? For nearly ten years I have been pondering on this question in the context of my marriage. How can I be the best possible father? Our society would judge the success of man by the number of 0’s in his paycheck. We take pride in huge homes and memberships to organizations, in recognition by awards, and in rising up the ladder of our chosen business. Yet, I think that too often we are missing the mark. For each of those worldly successes cost us in time with our children and family. Our ambitions have spiritual consequences that may bear bad fruit as our children grow up in a home where their father is absent more than he is present. In ages past, work and family life were often integrated. The aging two story structures on every main street in every small town in America bear witness to this integration. Often families lived above the business. Father was never farther than a few stairs away. Out back they almost certainly grew a portion of their food and milked a cow for their milk supply. There the family possessed a level of integral happiness that modern disjointed family life can only dream of. My wife and I have made multiple choices to permit both of us to have as much time with our children as possible. This has at times brought immense difficulties into our lives, but at the same time brought immense blessings. Seldom do I miss a meal with my children. Every day I am here to lead prayers, admonish disobedience, and guide with fatherly love. The cost of this presence has been that I have had very little worldly success. My first attempt at farming ended in unmitigated disaster. However, the purpose of the New Catholic Land Movement was and is not to help fathers and families find worldly farming success. Rather it was to help families discover what and who they were meant to be in the context of the land. It is this realization that has led me to write again and take up the sword of the pen in defense of rural family life. I measured the success or failure of the NCLM too closely with my own personal success and failure. This led me to very nearly give up the NCLM altogether. For a time I thought of deleting this blog and moving on with life. Yet, bit by bit I have woken back up to the original fire that started this whole idea in me. In worldly measures the NCLM has profited me nothing. It has led me on journey that has at times left me poor and humiliated. Yet, no Christian movement of any kind can flourish if it does not first find the Cross. So here I am nearly ten years into this journey. My original...

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How Ought One to Live

Posted by on Oct 27, 2016 in Posts | 12 comments

How Ought One to Live

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace. To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue. To avoid the second, he should lay a split of good oak on the andirons, preferably where there is no furnace, and let it warm his shins while a February blizzard tosses the trees outside.” – A Sand Country Almanac: By Aldo Leopold What does it mean to be normal. What is the normal way of living one’s life. Norms change over time, but perhaps it is not normal that we are looking for, but rather how does God intend man to live. We live in a world full of extravagant technological advances. We have the ability to do things that were unfathomable to previous generations. Technology is not evil, but nor is it good. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but rather in a real world with real world consequences. It is value laden, and it changes our lives significantly. Once upon a time human beings grew food and ate it. We are unique amongst creatures in that we are the only ones to have discovered and used agriculture. Our God-endowed reason allows us to not only pick the wild berries, but to cut, plant, cultivate, and improve them. We even discovered how to create thornless blackberries, which surely is a marvelous thing if you have ever picked from the entangled brambles of the wild ones. Certainly agriculture, which is the purposeful growing of food is a critical aspect of humanity’s ability to survive. Without it our population would surely nearly disappear in comparison to our current numbers. Our world has forgotten what it means to be normal. While we have seen advances in technology beyond our wildest dreams, at the same time we have seen the moral disintegration of our families and communities. When I originally discovered the Catholic Land Movement I was enthralled by the vision it put forth of a family returning to the land to grow their own food in the midst of a rural community rooted in the faith. However, the vision of the founders was based in a world that no longer exists. Today rural life has dissipated into something much less that it once was. Too often rural parishes are comprised of members who have seen many years under the country sun. Too few young families inhabit such places today. The founders presupposed that a local village would provide faith, community, and culture. Today it provides a Wal-Mart and a bar… Too often families who seek to return to the land find themselves seen as backwards and isolated. Yet, over and over again I have heard from voices as far away as Asia and Europe that say they too feel the longing for the land. Families who feel that their lives are fragmented and long for the unity that the Catholic Land Movement presented. It has led me to discern more clearly what I understand the New Catholic Land Movement to be. I see it now more as a set of ideals rather than an organization. I don’t see it ever organizing...

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Don’t Ever Give Up

Posted by on Sep 20, 2016 in Posts | 10 comments

Don’t Ever Give Up

As a high school athlete I was prone to posting inspirational quotes on my locker and in our locker room. One post that I had up that I looked at often was from the famed college basketball coach Jim Valvano, also known as Jimmy V. It was very simple: “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” It was particularly inspirational because it was said by a dying man. I think at some point in this journey back to the land I forgot about that indomitable spirit that once turned a gangly gawky boy into a national qualifying track athlete. I was not a great athlete, but I became one, but it was only after years of hard work and set backs. Lately I have been feeling that spirit come back. It is tamer and wiser than it once was. Perhaps I am a bit more prudent and cautious now as I begin again to journey back to the fields that constantly beckon me. I have been very quiet on here for quite some time. I will admit that I came within a hair’s width of giving up and going back to teaching. I made it all the way to the point of the interview and job offer. Then it seemed as though I had my Abraham and Isaac moment. God wanted to test me and see how far I was willing to go to follow him. The answer was simply as far as you want me to go Lord. Now it is as if I am awaking from a fog. Slowly I am remembering all the things I wrote on this blog. I am thinking again of the ideal of the land, and I am desiring to test it once again. The difference this time is that I know the cost. For two years I have been away from full time living and working of the land. During that time I took the time to become a better farmer. I have learned from my mistakes on our farm on the plains. I also have taken the time to study and learn to be a better farmer. My first attempt at farming I jumped head first hoping I would learn as I went, and learn I did. However, that learning had an awful cost. Ultimately, many of the problems I ran into were a result of my lack of knowledge and experience. Yet, my ultimate goal in farming was never to be the world’s greatest farmer. Farming and the land were always about something deeper. I forgot the reason I wanted to be on the land as I watched my dreams fade under the mandibles of  grasshopper plagues, crushing hailstorms, and blistering drought. As my stress level rose I forgot that the end goal was not to raise a crop. My end goal was to raise a family. My ultimate duty was to assist my spouse and children on their journey to holiness. It has only been since I started working outside the home again that I remembered how influential my constant presence on our farm was. I remembered and I once again desired that family unity that I had once only written about, but now I have lived. Today there is nothing under more attack by Satan than Marriage and...

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Worth it All

Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 in Posts | 13 comments

Worth it All

I am very blessed to be from a family of seven. My parents worked tirelessly to provide for us, and to give us many of the things they couldn’t afford growing up. That work ethic has led to my siblings going on to become successful in many different professions. We have a doctor, a lawyer, a carpenter, and an architect. I am always proud to tell others about my family. Then I come to myself…I’m a father. During the last few months I have taken a lot of time to reflect on life, and all of the good things I have. My last post marked a low point, and there wasn’t much of anywhere to go but up. Three weeks ago we welcomed our fourth child, and of course we haven’t slept much since then, but she is a daily reminder of my true vocation: Fatherhood. When the day comes for me to leave this earth, I hope that I won’t have much holding me back. I doubt I will ever find myself with an excess of worldly possessions. However, I do hope that when I stand before God for my judgment I will be able to point to my children as my magnum opus. Whether or not I was successful as a farmer in the past, or whether I am successful in whatever I do to provide financially for my family, I know that the greatest way I provide for my family is through my gift of self. Whatever my job ultimately isn’t all that important when compared to the eternal weight of the souls in my care. Through the past few years of hardships and struggles I slowly forgot why I originally went back to the land. My goal was to be able to be with my family as much as possible, and to teach them to follow Christ through my daily leadership in work and prayer. I admit that at times I failed abysmally at this, yet I know that I must have done some things right. I know this because every time I leave to go somewhere I have to sneak away, and I am always greeted with jubilant “Daddy, Daddy!” and children running out the front door when I return. Thus, I know somewhere along the way I must have done something right. It is in light of this that now, looking back on the past few years I can say it was worth it all. It was worth the grasshoppers, hailstorms, and droughts. It was worth the anxiety and sadness and loss. It was worth it all because of the relationship I have built with my children. They are a reminder of what Christ means when He exhorts us to “Be like children.” It has always been my hope that my children would far exceed me in virtue and goodness. As I watch them grow I see that my hope is not unfounded. I am a farmer, but I am a father first. Whether my crops in the fields grow or die is of much less significance than whether my children wither or prosper. So, though many of our original dreams blew away in the hot southern Kansas wind, I am now ready for the next phase of life. I am ready to move on...

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Thank You

Posted by on Dec 9, 2015 in Posts | 3 comments

Thank You

I’m afraid I will never be able to respond to everyone who responded to my last post. I have been a bit overwhelmed by the number of emails and other contacts I have received. So, I wanted to say thank you to all of you. Your kindness, recommendations, and words have given me much to think about. We love this life that we set out to live. I will never regret my foray into farming. Despite the many hardships, I have a tremendous number of happy memories as well. For now, we will stay put and wait for a baby to come in a month or so. Hopefully, she won’t come before Christmas! Then we will begin taking our first steps forward. Until then we will be patient and wait on the right door. God bless all of you, and keep us in your prayers. Pax,...

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