Drive four miles southwest of McDade, Texas and you can see the remains of old homesteads popping up in the rolling grassland, here and there an old water well or stone chimney. This can be said of many rural routes shooting out of towns across the country. But on FM 2336, if you look closely, you can also see pieces of old army barracks and bullet holes. In the early 1940s, the community of Oak Hill was sacrificed for the war effort and became the largest Army training base in Texas and eventually a German Prisoner of War camp. The cotton and corn was stripped and farmers were displaced. All that can be seen now of their life in Bastrop County is crumbled rock and a scrapped earth cemetery. Another few miles past the cemetery is Chickamaw Farm~Ranch & Wildlife – the only certified biodynamic farm in Texas.
“Biodynamic? Chickamaw?” In the Choctaw language, Chickamaw means: native, good or sacred land. Biodynamic agriculture focuses its primary efforts on nurturing and healing the land, and in turn, life itself. In biodynamics, production moves from a belief that all life is interconnected and that life (spirit) is in EVERYTHING. It is reflected in the cosmos, the grape vine, the compost, the centipede, below us, in us, and beyond us. A similar belief informs how many people farm. What we do to and for animals and the land (the soil, the water) matters – because it’s what we do to ourselves. The biodynamic difference is that through various ancient ceremonies, practitioners prepare the sacred land, trying to give back before taking.
Chickamaw is certified organic and certified biodynamic. They currently offer Irish Dexter beef raised in Lee County and five varieties of blueberries on hundreds of bushes grown near McDade. “My ambition is to produce the very best in nutrition and flavor available, while nurturing the land and the inhabitants thereon right down to the microbes. I feel that power comes from the cosmos (God) and through that influence the Earth and everything and every person is potentially influenced…. The problem here is that some persons are not in tune enough, i.e. there’s too much outside interference so people don’t understand what they are receiving.” But that can be repaired. Spend just 15 minutes with Bill and you will tune back into what you’re receiving. Guaranteed. Full of life and joy and devotion to goodness, Bill and his family have created an oasis of spiritual connectedness in Bastrop County.
On days when I feel disconnected by the hectic noise of this lively city, I love to think of Bill surrounded by his pack of devoted four-legged canine sidekicks out on the farm communing with nature, as he prepares for the season’s rewards and makes ready the soil for new rows and new nourishment. Peruvian flute reverb bounces from the farm house porch, smoke rises around stones placed thoughtfully in a circle around a cow’s horn. . . . and there is peace. Our deeds today can heal wounds of the past. Bill’s deeds lift up and ground down, making some measure of peace with what happened on that same land 70 years ago.
It is possible for food production to be the (re)spiritualization of matter and therefore a regenerative process rather than a degenerative one, for every cell (every spirit) involved.
For more info on Chickamaw Farm~Ranch & Wildlife, drop Bill a line and send an email.
Be well. And loveliest of days